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Firefighters making 90k, DB pension, and 4 day weekends

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  • Mar 4th, 2018 10:37 am
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Penalty Box
Aug 10, 2010
780 posts
182 upvotes
Mars.
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 3:54 pm
Things are slow to move, but eventually with so many people chasing limited accounting jobs (so you claim), compensation will fall or stagnate.

The owners of the big-4 are leaving a lot of money on the table if they aren't hiring the cheapest qualified workers they can find. Since they're probably swimming in money right now, they don't care, but at some point, demand for their particular industry may dry up, and they will have to rationalize compensation to market prices.

I don't follow compensation at the big-4, but I understand that a new grad really doesn't make a lot in accounting these days. I had the opportunity to visit an office in downtown Calgary a few years ago and it was full of business grads earning $30k/year in an insurance company's claims call center.
There's a LOT of ignorance with a bunch of people's comments here. Jobs at my firm start at the six figure mark for college graduates. We have hundreds to a little over a thousand graduates who apply to these roles, and we hire maybe 4 a year. This is WAY more than just money that we look at. Just because there are a ton of candidates doesn't mean there are a ton of GOOD candidates who can do a job.

That said, firefighting is not intellectually demanding (save for a few with engineering backgrounds) but it is physically demanding when there is a fire, no doubt. That said, there are a ton of built men out there who want to be firefighters.
Don't be a cooch.
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Oct 6, 2015
1300 posts
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superangrypenguin wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:07 pm
There's a LOT of ignorance with a bunch of people's comments here. Jobs at my firm start at the six figure mark for college graduates. We have hundreds to a little over a thousand graduates who apply to these roles, and we hire maybe 4 a year. This is WAY more than just money that we look at. Just because there are a ton of candidates doesn't mean there are a ton of GOOD candidates who can do a job.
Yeah but police officers and firefighters aren't rocket science. And I don't know what your firm does, but you may just be overly picky as its probably not possible to really objectively evaluate a thousand graduates. Lots of great people have their applications thrown in the garbage more than likely for factors which are likely trivial and have no reflection on the ability to actually perform the job.

That's your ability as a private company, if you want to spend more than necessary for compensation, as certainly your company does not extract money from its customers through the use of force, but its not really acceptable for public servants and the public sector.
That said, firefighting is not intellectually demanding (save for a few with engineering backgrounds) but it is physically demanding when there is a fire, no doubt. That said, there are a ton of built men out there who want to be firefighters.
Absolutely. Its a great 3-4 day a week job, which many leverage into other opportunities such as running construction, physical fitness, etc., businesses on the side. Recruiting and retention pressures are obviously not driving compensation in many locations.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1141 posts
518 upvotes
Edmonton
superangrypenguin wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:07 pm
Just because there are a ton of candidates doesn't mean there are a ton of GOOD candidates who can do a job.
This is exactly what I'm getting at. Just because some built guy has a firefighting diploma with some volunteer firefighting experience doesn't mean they would make a good professional firefighter. The ratio of apparently qualified applicants is almost meaningless and is a weak foundation for any argument for oversupply.
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Oct 6, 2015
1300 posts
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frozenmelon wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:15 pm
This is exactly what I'm getting at. Just because some built guy has a firefighting diploma with some volunteer firefighting experience doesn't mean they would make a good professional firefighter. The ratio of apparently qualified applicants is almost meaningless and is a weak foundation for any argument for oversupply.
So you think its right to ask young men to spend a lot of their money and time gaining the credentials to become, for instance, a firefighter, etc., to pass the quantitative tests, etc., only to tell them that they wouldn't make a good firefighter? Really?

That's just insulting to those hundreds of 'qualified' candidates most of whom will probably never even receive a coherent reason for their rejection.

No wonder why we have a youth underemployment/unemployment crisis in Canada, and large numbers of Millennials legitimately complaining that employers aren't even willing to give them a chance despite being qualified.
The ratio of apparently qualified applicants is almost meaningless and is a weak foundation for any argument for oversupply.
Completely disagree. If there's a problem with the qualification standards relative to operational needs, then they need to be adjusted, but if people are qualified, and large numbers of qualified are being rejected, then that's a serious problem and implies a significant oversupply at a given price. The logical thing for an employer is to do is to lower the price.

Public sector compensation in excess of market rates leaves open the possibility, if not high probability of self-dealing, nepotism, and other similar forms of misconduct which anecdotally are very common in public sector employment processes.
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Sep 4, 2007
1141 posts
518 upvotes
Edmonton
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:19 pm
So you think its right to ask young men to spend a lot of their money and time gaining the credentials to become, for instance, a firefighter, etc., to pass the quantitative tests, etc., only to tell them that they wouldn't make a good firefighter? Really?
No one asked them to do anything. If you believe so much in your "free market" principles, then you must believe we all have the right to pursue our dreams. That comes with the right to fail. These young men pursued their dream to become firefighters. Many failed the same way that thousands fail in droves each year pursuing their dream of becoming doctors. We all spend time and money finding our right path. We're not born with perfect knowledge of ourselves or of the market. Inefficient matching in the marketplace is therefore inescapable. We have so many would-be firefighters is because the formal barrier to entry is so low and it makes it look easy to get into. The alternative would be putting people into castes in elementary or middle school and force them to walk down paths we think they would be good at.
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Oct 6, 2015
1300 posts
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frozenmelon wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:27 pm
No one asked them to do anything. If you believe so much in your "free market" principles, then you must believe we all have the right to pursue our dreams. That comes with the right to fail. These young men pursued their dream to become firefighters. Many failed the same way that thousands fail in droves each year pursuing their dream of becoming doctors.
But the rejection process to become a doctor is in the university system, and is *prior* to such an individual investing a large amount of money to train themselves as a doctor. It is *not* a doctor becoming fully qualified to be a doctor, and being told, by the Province, that they can't be a doctor. A person who fails the educational process to be a doctor has the circumstances of their failure very clearly explained to them at the University level (or licensing/registration level) and has full and complete access to the relevant administrative courts to appeal any decisions that are made against them. A qualified firefighter who is randomly rejected because they are on a pile of 300 other qualified applicants for 32 jobs has almost no avenue for appeal nor even an entitlement to an explanation.

If more doctors were trained than were necessary for the Province, rates would fall, and eventually the supply of doctors would dry up as existing doctors go into retirement and the supply of new doctors dwindles.
We all spend time and money finding our right path. We're not born with perfect knowledge of ourselves or of the market. Inefficient matching in the marketplace is therefore inescapable. We have so many would-be firefighters is because the formal barrier to entry is so low and it makes it look easy to get into. The alternative would be putting people into castes in elementary or middle school and force them to walk down paths we think they would be good at.
Why not use market principles in determining compensation for public servants such that the prices of their labour are reflective of market supply and demand, and that prices serve a legitimate signal as to future demand in a profession?

Governments at all levels are basically living on borrowed money at this point, and taxpayers, especially property taxpayers, are extremely indebted. Interest rates on public debt, after falling for the past 35 years, are now starting to rise. Well-above market compensation packages for public servants are not sustainable. Anyone becoming a public servant today needs to understand that their employer's heavy indebtedness and rising cost of debt service will invariably force them into severe reductions in compensation going forward. Above market compensation is not sustainable, especially when, in the case of those firefighters, there's such a large excess of qualified candidates.

AFAIK, formal barriers to entry as a firefighter are not low. There's a number of required courses. There's some pretty significant physical standards. There's the requirement of 20/20 uncorrected visual acuity often which requires someone to undergo a painful PRK laser eye surgery to attain. One must have a clean background check. Yet despite this, hundreds of people were willing to pursue this career path in that community where only 32 firefighters were being hired.
Last edited by burnt69 on Feb 10th, 2018 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Sep 4, 2007
1141 posts
518 upvotes
Edmonton
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:37 pm
But the rejection process to become a doctor is in the university system, and is *prior* to such an individual investing a large amount of money to train themselves as a doctor. It is *not* a doctor becoming fully qualified to be a doctor, and being told, by the Province, that they can't be a doctor. A person who fails the educational process to be a doctor has the circumstances of their failure very clearly explained to them at the University level (or licensing/registration level) and has full and complete access to the relevant administrative courts to appeal any decisions that are made against them. A qualified firefighter who is randomly rejected because they are on a pile of 300 other qualified applicants for 32 jobs has almost no avenue for appeal nor even an entitlement to an explanation.

If more doctors were trained than were necessary for the Province, rates would fall, and eventually the supply of doctors would dry up as existing doctors go into retirement and the supply of new doctors dwindles.

Why not use market principles in determining compensation for public servants such that the prices of their labour are reflective of market supply and demand, and that prices serve a legitimate signal as to future demand in a profession?

Governments at all levels are basically living on borrowed money at this point, and taxpayers, especially property taxpayers, are extremely indebted. Interest rates on public debt, after falling for the past 35 years, are now starting to rise. Well-above market compensation packages for public servants are not sustainable. Anyone becoming a public servant today needs to understand that their employer's heavy indebtedness and rising cost of debt service will invariably force them into severe reductions in compensation going forward. Above market compensation is not sustainable, especially when, in the case of those firefighters, there's such a large excess of qualified candidates.
Ok, maybe replace doctor = engineer. That will make my point more clear. And you might not agree, but supply and demand (and therefore "market" principles) are in play when compensation is being determined. It's not like the government, union, and public service workers operate in a vacuum.
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Oct 6, 2015
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frozenmelon wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:47 pm
Ok, maybe replace doctor = engineer. That will make my point more clear. And you might not agree, but supply and demand (and therefore "market" principles) are in play when compensation is being determined. It's not like the government, union, and public service workers operate in a vacuum.
Engineers are in a large surplus, their compensation is now less than police officers, teachers, etc., in many jurisdictions. In some fields of engineering, compensation is the same as, or less than it was 20 years ago.

Governments have been willing to run deficits and have had access to cheap finance on their existing debt, which has kept them able to pay above-market compensation to most of their employees. But in case you didn't notice, interest rates have gone up dramatically over the past year or two, and the likelihood of them heading even higher is significant. Meanwhile Canadians of working age, especially in the private sector, are extremely indebted, with large numbers reporting that even minor increases in finance costs or interest rates would cause their financial failure. So yes, the public sector will need to return to market principles for compensation instead of being completely disconnected from such at the moment. The socialistic approach, of paying public servants extremely generously will fail, simply because, as it was once said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend." -- Margaret Thatcher, BTW.
Last edited by burnt69 on Feb 10th, 2018 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1565 posts
421 upvotes
Woodbridge
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:37 pm
But the rejection process to become a doctor is in the university system, and is *prior* to such an individual investing a large amount of money to train themselves as a doctor. It is *not* a doctor becoming fully qualified to be a doctor, and being told, by the Province, that they can't be a doctor.
I think it's difficult to compare the amount of time and money invested in becoming a fully qualified doctor to that of becoming a qualified firefighter.
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Oct 6, 2015
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jvnanu wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 4:57 pm
I think it's difficult to compare the amount of time and money invested in becoming a fully qualified doctor to that of becoming a qualified firefighter.
Nearly everyone admitted to medical school completes medical school, becomes a doctor and is employed as a doctor.

300 applicants to that process were deemed to be qualified as firefighters, only 32 actually became employed as doctors.

My argument is simple, if too many people want to become firefighters after qualifying (physically, educationally, etc.), then the compensation is set way too high and needs to fall until the number of people wanting to become firefighters roughly equals the demand for firefighters.
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Sep 4, 2007
1141 posts
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Edmonton
Lol are you seriously quoting one of the worst British Prime Ministers of all time? I'm done here.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
1565 posts
421 upvotes
Woodbridge
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 5:01 pm
Nearly everyone admitted to medical school completes medical school, becomes a doctor and is employed as a doctor.

300 applicants to that process were deemed to be qualified as firefighters, only 32 actually became employed as doctors.

My argument is simple, if too many people want to become firefighters after qualifying (physically, educationally, etc.), then the compensation is set way too high and needs to fall until the number of people wanting to become firefighters roughly equals the demand for firefighters.
What if the qualification process itself is too easy? The government addressed the issue of too many qualified teachers by doubling the time it takes to earn a BEd. I'd guess that the fact that nearly everyone admitted to medical school completes medical school and becomes a doctor is that they have very high standards, applicants have already demonstrated aptitude in their undergraduate studies, and they don't accept more than they need. But that's a totally different argument. You're saying that there is an oversupply of qualified firefighters so we should reduce compensation. Would you be satisfied with having more stringent restrictions on the admissions requirements for whatever the firefighting equivalent of police foundations is? That would have the same effect without reducing compensation.
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Oct 6, 2015
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jvnanu wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 5:07 pm
What if the qualification process itself is too easy?
Maybe it is. I don't know enough about firefighting to argue one way or the other, but it seems to me that good behavior and being of good physical condition are the main factors involved. I don't think it serves anyone well to have 'requirements' that are artificial and are probably unnecessary, such as a college degree, or physical ability dramatically in excess of what a firefighter needs in order to safely perform the job.
The government addressed the issue of too many qualified teachers by doubling the time it takes to earn a BEd.
Yes, but did that really serve the public with better outcomes? Or did it just drive up costs needlessly? Costs which have to be covered primarily through taxes on the middle class.
You're saying that there is an oversupply of qualified firefighters so we should reduce compensation. Would you be satisfied with having more stringent restrictions on the admissions requirements for whatever the firefighting equivalent of police foundations is? That would have the same effect without reducing compensation.
No, I wouldn't support that unless it can be demonstrated that there is a public interest in having these dramatically more 'qualified' firefighters employed instead of people who were qualified under the existing system, but merely are paid less for the same services.

This is RFD after all, we come here to discuss strategies to save a few bucks on our consumer purchases, and compare and contrast different services, evaluating whether they represent increased value or not for the price. Not many of us would voluntarily pay 30-50% more for a consumer item that we want, if the only extra 'feature' was a 'feature' that we don't need.

In fact, excessive compensation for public servants may be damaging the economy by depriving the private sector of such individuals. Especially the senior managers in the public sector who claim they're so dramatically underpaid relative to their private counterparts (which usually isn't true), but refuse to actually leave the public sector. Usually because they have a severely inflated view of their abilities, a sort of "Dunning-Kreuger" effect so to say.
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Dec 27, 2013
1565 posts
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Woodbridge
Ah - so your issue is in general with governments speding more than they need to on things; in this case, human resources. That certainly is one way of looking at it.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2011
8195 posts
1353 upvotes
Edmonton
burnt69 wrote:
Feb 10th, 2018 12:18 pm
I set forth how an employer of firefighters (or any profession for that matter) should set their compensation offers, by assessing the difficulty of recruitment and retention. And adjusting accordingly.

In the case of firefighters, there are literally so many qualified applicants that the process cannot possibly be based on truly objective criteria. Hence, it is clear, at least in that instance, that compensation needs to fall substantially.

Yes, nobody disagrees that firefighters provide a valuable and sometimes very dangerous service to the public. But to suspend the very basic principles of the labour market for a specific profession is fundamentally unfair to both the public taxpayers and to those in the firefighting profession itself, particularly new entrants.
What does any of that mean with respect to establishing a defensible compensation strategy? The verbosity of your replies is nauseating.

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