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A dangerous job?

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 11:03 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

A recent front-page article in the Northwest Herald examined public pensions.

I believe it was the chief of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills fire department who was interviewed, stating that in order to secure worthy applicants, a quality benefit package had to be offered to employees. Firefighting, he said, is a dangerous job, often entailing the dangerous task of climbing on the roofs of burning structures.

In truth, only about 100 U.S. firefighters die in the line of duty per annum, many of them from causes not directly related to the inherent dangers of their jobs, such as heart attacks. While it was sad to hear about those losing their lives in recent wildfires, or terrorist attacks, there are many more dangerous occupations. And few of them pay what local firefighters make.

In truth, being a firefighter in the suburbs is a cushy job, often won through patronage or nepotism. Who else can work 24 hours on, 48 off, and get to sleep for part of their workday? Many have second jobs, often competing on their off days with those who pay their salaries through property taxes.

And, since their profession carries unparalleled benefits, they needn’t worry about little things like health insurance or retirement plans. Hence, they can work for less.

Public sector collective bargaining needs to be curtailed so that their future benefits aren’t “impaired or diminished,” as those of Detroit’s employees doubtlessly will be. In closing, I hope my house doesn’t catch on fire.

Douglas Knight


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