ARE FIREFIGHTERS PAID TOO MUCH? NO ONE I KNOW IS. LET’S CLEAR UP SOME MISCONCEPTIONS! Jack Swerdloff, Captain 18+ busy years MDFR Hello fellow concerned taxpayers and Firefighters that may wonder if our salary is too much! My salary is definitely not too much. I’d like all concerned taxpayers to have an idea what most of us do and earn, and hope it clears up misconceptions that may be seen on your evening news. I wonder sometimes is my salary too much? I wouldn’t want to take from anyone else, but I also wonder who else is performing the difficult job my coworkers and I are doing. Recent headlines discuss the millions made by politicians, sports figures, and administrators. I’m happy for them. But I feel my salary is very fair. Here are some bullets about what Jack Swerdloff does at work, and what my salary is. Please remember! I make more than most of the Fire Dept employees. I have a dangerous job that gets our people killed and disabled often. Contrary to what is reported in some media my 78K take home salary a year is not too much in my opinion. Although I make more than nearly everyone on the Fire Dept, it’s not really that much, so it doesn’t make for a “cool” news story. You would never see this on your evening news or in the paper. At almost 20years on the job I take home about 78K a year after taxes, health care and charities I donate to. I don’t make too much in my opinion. By far the majority of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Employees make less than I do. But unfortunately that’s not the message I get when watching the evening news. My 78K reasonable take home salary is higher than most Firefighters because I am at the rank of Captain, a Rescue Diver, a Paramedic, and I’m riding an Advanced Life Support equipped and Staffed Ladder Truck. I must respond to approximately 14 calls a day with my crew, most of which are medical emergencies. In addition to that I’m designated as a “Station Commander” so I am the sole person responsible for 1 of 64 million-dollar County Firehouses and the trucks that respond from there. What do other people make that are responsible for expensive facilities? I only take home 78K a year. Somehow that seems a little different from what is reported by the media sometimes. There are approx 150 persons in MDFR with a higher seniority or rank then me; I could only assume they make more than I do. But that still means that about 1,800 MDFR Firefighters make less than me. I make more than everyone else in my Firehouse. I take home about 78K a year. I don’t make too much. What parent could bear the thought of touching someone’s dead child? MDFR Firefighters do it countless times every year. My memories range from work inside the Preschool at the Oklahoma City bombing to everyday MDFR calls. I’ve touched more dead kids than can be counted. Dozens. Who wants to provide Paramedic Treatment in a home, daycare center, or at a car crash to a dying child as the family screams in the background? Who wants to watch a child take their last breath? It would be nice to forget the sight of a child standing in the street with the skin hanging off their body while their home rages in fire. I’ve strapped near dead ejected car crash kids to a stretcher knowing they will surely die. My crew and I have performed CPR on countless drowned children watching some of them breathe again. I’ve comforted families after a SIDS death while we wait for the Police Dept to arrive and begin their investigation. Those are always the
saddest of days. I’ve been doing this for 18+ years now, 78K is not too much for what I do. Even when everything goes right it can go wrong. I’ve been stuck with dirty needles and taken the body destroying AIDS Cocktail medicine treatment as the alternative to possibly getting AIDS. How many people get stuck with a stranger’s dirty needle at work? How many people have taken the AIDS Cocktail? I have. MDFR personnel have died from diseases contracted on duty. The experts say that a career in health care gives you a 93% percent chance of testing positive for Tuberculosis. Yea! I’m not allowed in the house w my work attire or shoes for fear of what’s on my shoes would then be on the same floor my kids lay down on. When I think of all of the times that a cardiac arrest patient’s feces, urine, and vomit has ended up on my clothes and body I do not feel that my 78K salary is too much. When I’m off duty doing mouth to mouth on a little girls Daddy that drops at a soccer game I don’t think my salary is too much. Being a Rescue Diver used to be a volunteerism. I don’t have to bring in my own dive gear any longer as the Dept provides it on every apparatus we have and staffs the largest Dive Rescue Program in the world. One of your Miami-Dade Firefighters died on a dive call prior to the advancements of our Dive program today. When I recall all of the times I’ve taken one last look to ensure all of the alligator eyes in the Tamiami Canal are keeping their distance, before I risk my life to go check a submerged car, I don’t ever think I am paid too much. The non-divers on the shore keeping an eye on the gators don’t think I’m paid too much. The families of people I’ve pulled from murky canals and cars at 2am, while the rest of the world is sleeping, probably don’t think I’m paid too much. I only take home about 78,000 a year. I’ve been in our canals many times blindly searching at 2am. My salary is not too much in my opinion. I’ve covered burns w dressing and managed blisters for days. I’ve scrubbed dead skin from my bunker gear that pulled off of victims in the process of removing them while trapped in house fires. How many people have these types of experiences at work? My 78K salary is not too high. Stress? Everybody’s got it at work. Our deadlines come in without any warning and need immediate mitigation or someone dies. My tough decisions may take the life of someone’s mother or father, deserved or not. My guys have been badly burned at work. Who else makes those kinds of decisions on the job? MDFR Officers in Charge have made those educated gambles and lost Firefighter lives. Last week I watched a news woman ask our Fire Chief about his salary of 250K a year. The man has been in the Fire Service for decades. He leads one of the most advanced and trend setting Emergency Service Teams in the world. At 2.5 million people, The Miami-Dade County Fire Chief is overall responsible for the safety of more people than 15 states in America have in population! If the Miami-Dade Fire Chief can’t handle it, you better start the Armed Forces, because they are the next biggest Emergency Response Organization around! I wonder what should someone responsible for protecting 2.5million people make? 199K? Maybe 149K? He doesn’t make too much money. We all took a 5% pay cut this year and had some benefit reductions. That’s life. Many families had it tougher than that, so I am thankful. If the budget axe falls again then so be it. I’ll do the best I can. I’m married with 2 kids. My wife and I drive regular Dodge vehicles. Mine is old and paid off. I don’t have a vacation home or a boat, but we travel when we can. We live
in a fixer-upper home, 3bedrooms 2 baths (with a pool!). My stay home wife is my Elementary School Daughter’s “room mom”. My daughter plays in the school orchestra. My son is in middle school, does some sports there, and in Boy Scouts. We do not put any extra monies away for retirement. When I retire we will live on whatever my State of Florida Retirement is giving at the time. I’d like to think we work hard and are great citizens that contribute much to Miami-Dade County and the United States of America. My name is Jack Swerdloff. I bring home 78K a year. I’ve got almost 20 years of dangerous work under my belt for this company. I feel I try very hard to earn what I’m blessed to receive from the taxpayers every 2 weeks. I like what I do for a living. I get paid to work not 80, but 96hours minimum every 2 weeks, but like most supervisors I work many more. I’ll take home around 78K this year. I don’t make too much money. I make life and death decisions often. I’ve suffered serious and scary injuries while performing my job. I often come into contact with fire, caustic smoke, explosive gasses, dangerous liquids, blood, semen, spit, and have watched the skin bubble on my hand from hot tar. My family of 4 and I will live on my 78K take home pay this year. I don’t make too much money. I manage a multimillion dollar facility and its team of hero’s. When I come home from work I’m tired and I leave my shoes outside because I don’t want contagious diseases tracked inside. Experts say that I will die, get cancer, or have other serious problems before the national average. When I retire after 30 years on the job I’ll be living on borrowed time. I will keep my fingers crossed that I get to see my grandkids grow and enjoy some traveling years with my wife. My 78K take home salary seems reasonable to me. I don’t make too much money. The lives of your loved ones rest in the hands of me and my fellow FF’s when we are on duty. No one else is coming to save you if you are dying or your property is on fire. I take my job very serious and I think I earn the reasonable salary I am paid. I hope my fellow taxpayers and MDFR peers feel the same. Uncle Sam, medical insurance, and some charities I donate to will take a bunch of my salary. I am thankful for the 78K leftover that I will bring home this year. 6 of my peers have died in the line of duty since I’ve been on the job. That’s 1 Firefighter death every 3 years right here in Miami-Dade! I wonder what “big money” jobs can compare??? Dozens more Miami-Dade Firefighters have had career ending injuries and exposures in my 18 years. I don’t want to die and I don’t want to be disabled. I hope I’m not next. I don’t get paid too much.