Employment Conditions of Policemen and Firemen

Employment Conditions of Policemen and Firemen

Compensation, Conditions of Employment and Retirement Benefits of Firemen

(Continued)

IN only five cities in the United States are firemen employed on a three-platoon basis where they work six days a week, eight hours daily and forty-eight hours weekly. These five cities are New York, Toledo, Ohio; Erie, Pa.; Wilkes Barre, Pa., and Binghamton, N. Y. The threeplatoon system in New York City is only partially operative at the present time and will not be in full force for the entire department until December 31, 1939. Prior to 1937, the entire New York Fire Department was on a two-platoon basis and worked an average of eighty-four hours per week. New York allows twenty-one days vacation yearly with pay. The other four cities allow fourteen days yearly with pay.

Vacation Arrangements

Washington, D. C., is the most liberal of all of the cities with respect to vacations. That city allows twentysix days with pay. Washington firemen have one regular day off weekly in addition. Duluth, Minn., and Raleigh, N. C., allow only seven days vacation with pay. In Duluth they have only one day off monthly in addition to their vacation, while in Raleigh they are allowed no regular days off. Quincy, I11., with no regular days off, allows eight days vacation with pay. Montgomery, Ala.; Cranston, R. I., and Hagerstown, Md., allow no vacation whatever with pay and no regular days off.

Syracuse, N. Y., allows twenty-two days vacation with one regular day off weekly, llamtramck, Mich., allows twenty-four days vacation with no regular days off. With the exception of Washington, D. C.; Syracuse, N. Y., and Hamtramck, Mich., twenty-one days is the maximum vacation allowance. This is the allowance in New York, Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Atlantic City, N. J., and Topeka, Kan. In over eight out of every ten cities of the United States, the annual vacation allowance is two weeks or fifteen days.

There is no uniformity throughout the country with respect to the number of years firemen must serve before they become eligible for retirement. Twenty cities have no retirement plan. Four cities, Kenosha, Wis.; Salem, Mass.; Newport News, Va., and Middletown, Conn., permit retirement only for disability. In Louisville, Ky., retirement is discretionary with the pension board. Only fifteen years of service are required before retirement in Harrisburg, Pa.; Portsmouth, Ohio, and Hagerstown, Md., while Altoona, Pa., requires as much as forty-four years of service, under certain circumstances, before firemen are eligible to retire. Thirtyfive per cent of the cities permit retirement after twenty years of service or less, regardless of age. In fortyseven per cent of the cities, a fireman must serve twenty-two years or more, regardless of age. In the balance of the cities, retirement is permitted after twenty years or twenty-five years upon reaching a certain age, which ranges from fifty to sixty years.

The Citizens’ Budget Committee of New York City recently made a study of compensation, conditions of employment and retirement benefits of policemen and firemen in 293 cities in the United States.

Believing that the comparative data on the two branches of municipal service compiled by the Committee will be of interest to members of the Fire Service throughout the country, FIRE ENGINEERING plans to publish serially the essential portions of the tabulation. This third article treats of the Fire Service. Subsequent articles will consist of salary and other tabulations for both policemen and firemen.

Among the cities of a million population or more, New York, Chicago, I11., and Philadelphia, Pa., permit retirement after twenty years of service. Detroit, Mich., requires twenty-five years. Los Angeles, Cal., requires from twenty-five to thirty-five years. In the eight cities with population from 500,000 to a million, St. Louis, Mo., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Buffalo, N. Y., permit retirement after twenty years of service. The other five cities require twenty-five years or more. In Baltimore, Md., the firemen are not eligible to retire until they reach sixty vears of age. In the eleven cities, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., with populations between 300,000 and 500,000, Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; Kansas City, Mo., and Portland, Ore., permit retirement after twenty years.

The majority of the 288 cities have no compulsory old age retirement provision. In those cities which have such a provision, the age ranges from fifty-five years in Sioux Falls, S. D., to seventy-two years in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Financing of Pensions

There is a wide variation throughout the country in the methods of financing pensions for firemen. Over 70 per cent, or 188, of the cities require a contribution based upon the amount of the annual salary. Such contributions range from a low of of 1 per cent in Cleveland, Ohio, to as high as 14 3/4 per cent in Pasadena, Cal. In 61 cities, the firemen make no contribution whatever. Sixteen of these cities are in Ohio and 12 are in Massachusetts. Among the twenty-four largest cities in the United States, only New York and Detroit, Mich., require no contribution from the firemen. A number of cities require a fixed annual contribution which ranges from $6 in the case of Louisville, Ky., to from $80 to $120 in Stockton. Cal.

Firemen in cities in New York State who are members of the New York State Employees’ Retirement System, contribute from 3.72 per cent to 6.16 per cent of their annual salary. In cities in the State of New Jersey, firemen uniformly contribute four per cent of their annual salary. The State of Oregon enacted a law, effective in 1937, requiring a minimum contribution by employees of four per cent of salary. Of twenty cities in Ohio, only four require a contribution by the firemen.

Under an act passed by the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts in 1934, all non-contributory retirement systems in Massachusetts, except for judges of the courts, ceased to be open to new employees after December 31, 1937. Present employees may continue to enjoy the protection of a present non-contributory system. Effective January 1, 1938, therefore, the information shown in tables to lie published in later issues, with respect to those cities in Massachusetts where the firemen make no contribution toward the cost of their pensions, does not apply to new employees in those cities.

Cities and Men Contribute to Cost

While firemen in New York and Detroit contribute nothing toward the cost of their pensions, firemen in Chicago, I11., contribute four and threequarters per cent of their salary, in Philadelphia more than three and one-quarter per cent and in Los Angeles four per cent of their salary. Contributions by firemen in the cities with populations between 500,000 and a million range from one-half of one per cent in Cleveland, Ohio, to four and five-eighths per cent in Milwaukee, Wis. The only other city in this group where the contribution is less than three per cent is St. Louis, Mo., which requires a two per cent contribution. Washington, D. C., requires a contribution of three and onehalf per cent and in Newark, N. J.; Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore., firemen contribute four per cent of their salaries.

About 40 per cent, 109, of the cities throughout the country make a deficiency appropriation to finance the cost of firemen’s pensions over and above the contributions by the firemen. Seven cities, including Buffalo, N. Y.; Washington, D. C., and Cincinnati, Ohio, credit to the pension fund certain revenues from sources within and without the Fire Department and make a deficiency appropriation in addition. In New York City the pension fund receives annually about a million and a half dollars in miscellaneous revenues and the deficiency is made up by the city and financed through the issuance of special revenue bonds redeemable the following year.

Twelve cities make no contribution whatever toward the cost of firemen’s pensions. Among these cities are Kansas City, Mo.; Miami, Fla.; Peoria, I11., and Charlotte, N. C. St. Louis, Mo., makes an appropriation only for disability pensions. Fortyeight cities, including Boston, Mass.; Pittsburgh, Pa., and Providence, R. I., contribute on an equal basis with the firemen. In Knoxville, Tenn., the firemen contribute three per cent of their salary and the City two per cent. In Covington, Ky., the firemen contribute two per cent and the city one per cent.

The percentage of salary contributed by the city ranges as high as 12 1/8 per cent in Milwaukee, Wis., and 12.78 per cent in Sacramento, Cal. A few cities make a fixed appropriation, as is the case in Wilmington, Del., with a $5,000 appropriation by the city, in Wheeling, W. Va., with a $2,500 appropriation and in Pueblo, Col., with a $3,000 appropriation. Cities in the state of New Jersey contribute four per cent of salary, as do the firemen and in a few instances make a deficiency appropriation as well. In Indiana, the contribution by the city is limited to the equivalent of two cents on every one hundred dollars of assessed valuation, although Indianapolis reports a contribution of two mills of each taxable dollar. In Ohio, the State law fixes the contribution by the city at not more than the equivalent of a three-tenth mill tax levy.

Cost Met by Tax on Fire Insurance

In twenty-four of the cities, the public’s share of the cost is met by a tax on fire insurance premiums. This is true in Philadelphia, Pa., and Denver, Col. Some of the cities report a deficiency appropriation in addition to the revenues from this source. Other cities, including New Orleans, La., and St. Joseph, Mo., finance their share of the cost through the collection of license fees and other special taxes. In High Point, N. C., where the firemen make no contribution toward the cost of their pensions, the entire income for retirement pay has been received from a one dollar tax on each warrant issued for violation of the criminal laws of the city and state.

Marion, Ohio, Abolishes Pensions

Marion, Ohio, abolished pensions by action of its City Council in 1936, on the ground that pensions are a gratuity. The Common Pleas Court upheld the action of the Council and an appeal has been taken to the Court of Appeals. Louisville, Ky., among a number of other cities, is endeavoring to place its pension system on a sound contributory basis. In 1936 contributions for pensions in Louisville amounted to over $76,000, while the contribution by the policemen and firemen amounted to slightly more than $2,500.

Basis of Retirement Allowance

In 225 cities, 78 per cent of the total, the annual retirement allowance payable to firemen after service retirement, is 50 per cent or less of their final salary. Some cities base the retirement allowance upon the average salary of the last five years of service, as in the case of Philadelphia, Pa.; Altoona, Pa., allows $2.25 per month for each year of service, Stockton, Cal., allows from three to four dollars per month for each year of service. Cities in the State of New York, whose firemen are members of the New York State Employees’ Retirement System, pay a retirement allowance of l/70th of the average annual salary of the last five years of service, multiplied by the number of years of service. Some cities pay a fixed sum, regardless of salary. This is true of St. Louis, Mo., which pays $600 a year; Pittsburgh, Pa., which pays $960 a year, and a number of other cities. St. Petersburg, Fla., makes the most liberal provision, with a retirement allowance of 75 per cent of the salary.

In Omaha, Neb., under State Law, firemen receive a pension of fifty per cent of a $180 monthly salary, which was the basic salary at the time the law took effect. The present basic salary is only $130 per month. The law with respect to firemen differs from that of policemen, who receive a pension of fifty per cent of their actual salary.

Seventy per cent of the cities, a total of 200, provide an annual retirement allowance of not more than 50 per cent for retirement on account of disability incurred in line of duty. Los Angeles, Cal., grants disability retirement allowances ranging from 10 per cent to 90 per cent of the salary. Miami, Fla., pays 100 per cent of the salary. Lorain, Ohio, pays 100 per cent annually, up to the scheduled time of retirement. Cities in New York State which are members of the State Retirement System pay an annual retirement allowance equal to 75% of the average salary of the last five years of service.

Only four cities, New York City, Chicago, I11.; Sacramento, Cal., and St. Petersburg, Fla., pay a life-time disability retirement allowance of 75 per cent of the final salary. Of the 24 largest cities in the United States, with populations in excess of 300,000, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., 16 cities pay not more than 50% of final salary for disability rctairement.

Correction of an Error

To the Editor:

We have just read an article in the April issue of FIRE ENGINEERING, which deals with employment conditions of police and Firemen, and the data seems to have been received from the Citizens Budget Committee of New York City. It is a very good article and has much valuable information, but we noticed where it mentions that the firemen of Beaumont are on duty sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. This information is not correct. These men work the double shift, ten hours on, fourteen off each day, working a full 24 hours on Monday every other week or at the most 84 hours a week.

The information either given to the Citizens Budget Committee was wrong or they made the mistake in their own office. While it does not make any particular difference to us. it still gives a bad impression concerning the working conditions here with other cities.

I am merely calling this to your attention, so that this erroneous information may not be published again. I would appreciate your calling it to the attention of the Citizens Budget Committee. Yours Truly

S. D. O’CONOR,

Chief, Beaumont, Tex.

To the Editor:

Referring to the article appearing in the April issue of FIRE ENGINEERING entitled “Employment Conditions of Policemen and Firemen”, I wish to correct a statement appearing in the third paragraph which says:

“With this sole exception, the highest entrance salary paid to firemen in any city in the United States is $2,300, in Bloomfield and Hackensack, N. J., in both of which cities the salaries of firemen range from $2,300 to $2,500.”

While I do not propose to criticize the above statement as it refers to salaries of Bloomfield firemen, this is quite untrue as it relates to salaries in Hackensack.

Entrance salaries paid to firemen in this latter city as adopted by referendum in 1926 are as follows:

Firemen: 1st Grade, $2,000; 2nd Grade.

$2,100; 3rd Grade, $2,300.

Drivers: 1st Grade, $2,100: 2nd Grade.

$2,200; 3rd Grade. $2,500.

I do not profess to know from where the Citizens’ Budget Committee of New York City got its information, but confirmation of the above figures may he obtained by writing to Miss Ethel M. Hoyt, City Clerk, City Hall, Hackensack, N. J.

Very truly yours,

O. A. RIPPERGER,

112 Union Street,

Hackensack, N. J.

Employment Conditions of Policemen and Firemen

3

Employment Conditions of Policemen and Firemen

The Citizens’ Budget Committee of New York City recently made a study of compensation, conditions of employment and retirement benefits of policemen and firemen in 293 cities in the United States.

Believing that the comparative data on the two branches of municipal service compiled by the Committee will be of interest to members of the Fire Service throughout the country, FIRE ENGINEERING plans to publish serially the essential portions of the tabulation. This second article treats with the Fire Service. Subsequent articles will consist of salary and other tabulations for both policemen and firemen.

Compensation, Conditions of Employment and Retirement Benefits of Firemen

Of the 293 cities in the United States from which complete information was received with respect to compensation, conditions of employment and retirement benefits of policemen and firemen, five do not maintain paid Fire Departments and are still dependent upon a volunteer fire-fighting force. These cities, all in the state of Pennsylvania, are Reading, Chester, York, Hazleton and Norristown.

Range of Entrance Salaries in U. S. Cities

Entrance salaries for firemen in the 289 cities range from a low of $600 for fourth grade firemen in Oklahoma City, Okla., and $720 in Laredo, Tex., to a high of $2,600. Oklahoma City has a salary range of $600 to $1,740 per annum. Laredo, Tex., has but one salary rate. In addition to these two cities, only Mobile, Ala., with but one salary rate of $1,020 and Montgomery, Ala., whose salaries range from $1,080 to $1,188, pay their first year firemen a salary of less than $1,100.

The only’ city in the United States which pays an entrance salarv of $2,600 is Jersey City, N. J., and in that city there is but one salary rate. With this sole exception, the highest entrance salary paid to firemen in any city in the United States is $2,300, in Bloomfield and Hackensack, N. J., in both of which cities the salaries of firemen range from $2,300 to $2,500. The average entrance salary in all of the 289 cities, including Tersey City, N. J., is $1,673.60.

New York City pays an entrance salary of $2,000. The lowest entrance salary in any of the other four cities with a population in excess of one million is in Philadelphia, Pa., where the rate is $1,825. Chicago, III., pays the highest rate, $2,140. ‘fhe average entrance salary in these four cities is $2,001.25. Boston, Mass., and Baltimore, Md., pay the lowest entrance salary among the eight cities with a population of 500,000 to a million. The rate in both of these cities is $1,600 per annum. The highest rate in this group is in San Francisco, Cal., which pays $2,160. In the group of eleven cities, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., with a population between 300,000 and 500,000, the lowest entrance salary is $1,347 in Louisville, Ky. Rochester, N. Y., which has only one rate and Newark, N. J., pay the highest entrance salaries of $2,100 per annum. The average entrance salary in the eight cities from a half million to a million population is $1,822.50. The average is $1,861 in the twelve cities between 300,000 and 500.000 population.

Maximum Salaries

Laredo, Tex., with its one salary of $720 per annum, pays the lowest maximum salary of all the 289 cities. The highest maximum salary is $3,000 per annum. Besides Jersey City, N. J., only three other cities in the United States pay a $3,(XX) maximum salary. These cities are New York City, and Yonkers and Mount Vernon, N. Y., both of which latter cities adjoin New York City. Two other cities in the Metropolitan New York area, New Rochelle and White Plains, N. Y., pay $2,750 maximum salaries. Montclair, N. J., also included in the Metropolitan New York area, pays a top salary of $2,700. Only three other cities in the entire United States, in addition to these seven cities in the Metropolitan New York area, pay their firemen a top salary in excess of $2,500. Detroit, Mich., and Pittsburgh, Pa., lioth pay a maximum salary of $2,520. In Allantic City, N. J., the top salary is $2,550. The average maximum salary in all of the 289 cities is $1,928.22.

The salary in Yonkers, N. Y„ ranges from $1,940 to $3,000 and in Mount Vernon, N. Y., the entrance salary is $1,800 and the top salary $3,000. In New Rochelle, N. Y., the entrance salary is $2,112. Montclair, N. J., pays an entrance salary of $1,600 and in White Plains, N. Y., firemen enter the service at $2,000.

As in the case of policemen, the top salaries for firemen in each of the five cities, adjacent to New York City, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., which are in excess of $2,500 per annum, were raised to their present levels after the referendum in New York City in 1929, as a result of which salaries of first grade firemen and first grade patrolmen in New York City were increased in 1930 from $2,500 to $3,000.

First grade firemen in Yonkers, N. were increased from $2,500 on July 1, 1930. In Mount Vernon, N. Y., first grade firemen were increased from $2,500 after a referendum in 1930. Prior to January 1, 1937, first grade firemen in New Rochelle, N. Y., received $2,577.50. Montclair, N. J., increased the salaries of its first grade firemen from $2,500 in 1930. In White Plains, N. Y., the top salary of firemen was increased from $2,500 on January 1, 1931.

What Four Largest Cities Pay

Of the four largest cities in the United States, outside of New York, the lowest maximum salary is paid by Philadelphia, Pa., where the rate is $2,190. Detroit, Mich., pays the highest rate, $2,520. The average in the four cities is $2,402.50. Of the eight cities having a population between 500,000 and a million, the lowest top salary is $1,800 in Haiti more, Md. The highest, $2,520, is in Pittsburgh, Pa. The average of the eight cities is $2,226. In the eleven cities, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., having populations of 300,000 to 500,000, the lowest maximum sal ary is paid in Louisville, Ky., where the rate is $1,536. Newark, N. J., pays the highest rate, $2,500, and the average of the twelve cities is $2,106.

Next to Laredo, Tex., with its one salary rate of $720 and Mobile, Ala., with its single rate of $1,020, the lowest maximum salary in the United States is to be found in Montgomery, Ala., which pays $1,188. There are only six other cities which pay their firemen maximum salaries of less than $1,400 per annum. These cities and their maximum salary rates are Quincy, 111., and Raleigh, N. C., 81,380 each; Charleston, S. C., $1,346; Meridian, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La., $1,320 each, and Fort Smith, Ark., $1,236.

In the 289 cities, the average mean salary is $1,794.68. In the four largest cities outside of New York, the average mean is $2,201.87. The average is $2,086.87 in the eight cities with populations between 500,000 and a million. In the twelve cities with populations ranging from 300,000 to 500,000 the average is $1,983.62. The mean salary in New York City is $2,500. Save for Jersey City, N. J., no other city in the United States pays a mean salary as high as that paid in New York City.

Years of Service to Reach Top Grade

The number of years of service required of firemen before they reach the top grade and salary, ranges as high as fifteen years in Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga. In Lynchburg, Va., fourteen years are required. Ten years are required in Warren, Ohio, and nine years in Berkeley, Cal. It takes seven years to reach the top grade and salary in Yonkers, N. Y; Montclair, N. J., and Madison, Mis. The requisite in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mount Vernon, N. Y.; Columbus, Ga., and Newport News, Va.. is six years.

Only three cities in the United States of the nine cities, exclusive of Jersey City, N. J., which pay their firemen top salaries of more than $2,500 a year, permit the firemen to advance to that salary in less than five years. New York City advances its firemen from $2,000 to a top salary of $3,000 after three years of service. Detroit, Mich., advances them from $2,1(X) to $2,520 after fifteen months service. Atlantic City, N. J., advances them from $2,050 to $2,550 after three years of service.

In Yonkers, N. Y., where the entrance salary is $1,940 and the top salary is $3,000, it takes seven years to reach the top. In Mount Vernon, N. Y., it takes six years to advance

from an entrance salary of $1,800 to a top salary of $3,000. Five years is required in New Rochelle, N. Y., to advance to a top salary of $2,750 from the entrance salary of $2,112. White Plains, N. Y., requires five years of service for advancement from $2,000 to the maximum of $2,750. In Montclair, N. J., the firemen can only reach top salary of $2,700 after serving seven years from their entrance at $1,600. Pittsburgh, Pa., advances them from an entrance salary of $1,800 to a top salary of $2,520 after six years of service.

Work Longer Hours Than Policemen

Firemen throughout the country work longer hours than do policemen. This is due to the fact that, although a fireman may be on duty, his work, except while actually engaged in fighting a fire, is by no means as rigorous as the work of a policeman, who, in most cases, is actually on patrol or on traffic duty during his entire tour every day that he is on duty. Of the 288 cities covered by this report, the firemen in 246, or more than eighty-five per cent of the cities, are on duty seven days a week, twelve hours a day, eighty-four hours a week.

Springfield, Mo., and High Point, N. C., require their firemen to work six days a week, twenty-four hours a day, one hundred and forty-four hours a week. Springfield, Mo., al-

lows them one day off weekly with pay and ten days’ vacation annually. High Point. N. C., provides one day off weekly with pay and fourteen days’ annual vacation. Louisville, Ky., Beaumont, Tex., and Wichita Falls, Tex., each require seven days on duty, sixteen hours a day, one hundred and twelve hours weekly, with no regular days off. Ten days annual vacation is allowed in Louisville, Ky., fifteen days in Beaumont, Tex., and sixteen days in Wichita Falls, Tex. in Manchester, N. H., firemen are on duty continuously with one day off in every four and fourteen days annual vacation.

(To be continued)