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October 25, 2005



Lies, damn lies. And statistics.

How come this information never makes it into the newspaper?

I'd also like to see a similar histogram showing the number of fires in OC over the past 15 years. How 'bout it OC Blog?


Red: Got the numbers? I'd also like to see a plot of the number and severity of injuries to see if the risks are increasing or decreasing.

The Register's answer to your question is the same as the public employee unions -- not enough money for staff to do the work.


Poor Steve. Desperately trying to rationalize his slide in believability.

Must not be a whole lot to right about in the Commentary Section.

At least the News Section did some real investigations and found something Greenhut should have found years ago. Instead he is so desperate to curry favor with Norby over redevelopment he accepts the party line without any hesitation. He was led down a primrose path and his reputation is being destroyed in real time. The worst part is that everyone sees it but him.


The reason no one believes Greenhut on this matter is that even he admits he included things that aren't part of compensation. Does anyone on this blog include employee or employer payroll taxes in their household budgets? Doubt it. According to the media person handling the Yes on Measure D campaign, those are the types of things included in this figure. Hence the lack of credibility in the number given.

As far as people earning over $200K/yr. What is lacking in that figure is the hours worked. Everyone knows a firefighter has to work a TON of overtime to earn that type of compensation. Yet another reason why no one gets worked up over Greenhut's petty accusations. And while Greenhut makes the claim of firefighters being paid while sleeping, he begged off on the chance to spend an entire 24 hour shift in a firehouse to see first hand how much sleep he would have gotten.

What he still doesn't realize is that with all the mud he is slinging at firefighters, people still trust us when they are in need than him. And he just can't get over it.

Not a FF just a numbers person


taken from their website FF pay is: The salary range for firefighter is $4,088.93 to $5,496.40 per month (12-step salary range).
which is 23.58 to 31.71 hr.

Now they also can get additional specialty pay to firefighters who qualify and perform specific duties. Specialty pay includes, but is not limited to, paramedic pay, bilingual pay, hazardous materials pay, aircraft rescue firefighter pay, urban search and rescue pay, and staff assignment

Top pay base is 65,956yr (no special pay)to make 125K that's an additional 1256 hrs of work. 2080+1256 = 3336 hours at work in a year.

So to make 225k in a year that's one heck of a bunch of overtime.

And if only one of the 738 FF saves a life what's that worth to the community? or saving a house? or a business?

While Mr. Greenhut might espouse numbers trying to invoke criticism, anger, jealously, or riots, he might should be a bit more careful in his reasoning. If someone takes it upon himself to serve the public, which all government employees do, and receive compensation based on hrs and rules of labor laws, does berating them because they make several dollars giving up their life's to protect that important to the public? The only reason overtime exists is because the numbers of staff needed to do a job do not exist. And I am not sure, but I do believe all of those FF pay taxes like everyone else, I don't think they get an exemption.

The person who made over 225k, I am sure paid a large payment of state and federal taxes, but most of all he paid with his time, and he does not get a refund on that. I am not sure I want a FF to stop working a fire just because he might go on overtime, but then that's just my opinion.

Blog Watcher

I have to give Greenhut a break. He came out here from Iowa. I'm sure even in Des Moines the numbers he throws out would be considered substantial. But given the average price of a home in OC is well over a half million, 100K+/yr isn't that much money to own a home or raise a family.

At least not to me. I am happy to know there are people willing to risk their lives for that sum. Something I'm not willing to do.

OC Fire Storm

Lurk: Are you going to even attempt to post a similar chart for the cops, or is being balanced not in your nature?

Tonight, tomorrow, or sometime this week, a child will become ill and 911 will be called. Fire will respond and find that the child needs to be rushed to the hospital. The mother and father will hand their child over to complete strangers (us) and we'll dash to the hospital with the child while mom and dad arrive sometime later.

The public trusts and respects fire fighters enough to let us into their homes at 1am, hand us their first born and then disappear into the night. Mr. Greenhut knows this and can't live with the fact that we're respected more than he is.


Go to the Orange Punch blog. Greenhut is sounding like a petulant child. Three posts later, it is all he can write about today since he knows even he stretched the bounds of believability.

"it's true, it's true, it's true, it's true, don't you believe me?" I hope he isn't on the floor kicking. Because that is what it sounds like.

I've got a case of government cheese to send over to Grand Av to go with that whine.

Steve, just tell me the internal mail address, and it will be right over.


An assertion that we are unbalanced, given your tone, is unwarranted. We discuss and present our points-of-view in here, and we (me anyway) don't claim to be balanced. Neither are we unfair. If you wish to "counter-balance" me, then do your own Blog.

In this case, we simply saw a good set of numbers that needed better clarification. Steve Greenhut did the research (I suspect he has better access to information than I do), but I felt we could copy it (as we constantly do from the Register's Blog with their apparent approval), plug it into a simple spreadsheet chart and present it in a more visually understandable and impactful manner.

If YOU'd like to do the research, if YOU have the time (I don't get the time off you folks do), and want to email me similar numbers for the Sheriff, YOU're welcome to do so and I will consider posting them IF there's an understandable (apples:apples) comparison to be made.

While you're at it, I'd also like to see the numbers I mentioned above to Red -- that is, the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries incurred over, say, the last ten years compared to the number of incidents -- leave out the heart attacks and stress disabilities unless you want to hear about my heart attack on a white collar job. And then we'd like to see the number of fires fought too.

I have a suspicion that your jobs are getting less risky than we've been reading/hearing about given the better technology you've been buying AND the good job you've been doing in fire prevention, inspections, promotion of smoke and alarm detection systems, modern Hazmat handling, etc. Do NOT jump to the conclusion that we're implying that there's no risk in your jobs, but I'll bet it can be proved that your OTJ risks have been steadily diminishing.

Jeff Flint

The only point I have tried to make to Steve on this is that the average person does NOT know what it costs for their employer to have them around. My employees don't. Not with payroll taxes, SUI, SDI, work comp, payroll admin, etc etc etc. Most people know what their salary is (probably their take home), and have a vague sense that their might be other costs.

Add to that discussion that the base firefighter work week is not 40 hours, but I think 56 hours.

So while Steve is perfectly capable of taking a number from a budget and dividing by 738 firefighters, the resulting number is probably misleading to the readers.

And I am not saying anything here that I have not said to Steve himself.


Hey Lurk. Why don't you do a public records request and then you can watch Sarge get his thong in a twist when the firefighters asked that very same question.


You might even get special mention on the Tin Star.

Bruce Matthias

Wow. I find the reaction from the firemen kind of interesting. How do they manage to fight the fires when their skin is so thin? Relax guys, you have great gig and everyone knows it. There are about a hundred qualified applicants for every opening; no shortage of potential heroes willing to sleep away from home a couple of times a month.

But thanks for the entertainment. This 'guns and hoses' debate is justification enough for the initiative process. Where else could we get this much fun for free?

There seems to be another solution rather than Measure D- cut back on those OUTRAGEOUS salaries and the fire dept. will have all the money they need! I'm no cop lover, but good god, those salaries are ridiculous!

Allan Bartlett

I'll have to echo Bruce's comments. In fact I'll go him one better. The fireguys should thank their lucky stars that illegal aliens haven't infiltrated their profession and undercut their jobs by doing the same job for 20k/year salary. After all, as one congressional candidate stated "they're here so we might as well give them benefits".

Powder Blue Report


Damnation, Allan, you sure have a knack for getting the trolley back on the same track.

I agree with Bruce: "guns and hoses" has proved vastly entertaining. And I've learned a lot from firemen about the sheriff deputies and vice versa -- primarily, that both services are inefficient and overfunded. Howsabout a 172 refund?


Hey RP. People like you say that till they need us.

Then you're perspective is a little different.


OK, OK. Lets just be truthful here.

Firefighters are not underpaid, witness the FACT that there will be two openings and 5,000 applicants.

So working as a firefighter is a good job and is desireable to many people.

I'm not eager to do that kind of work but heck, they work only about 110 days a year, probably less (not including overtime, of course). What is it? 10 days on, 20 days off? I know that's the ratio, I might be wrong about the specifics. Two or three weeks vacation.

So you got a bunch of guys who though they have to be available 24x7 while on duty get AT LEAST 265 days off a year to pursue other interests. Some are in law school. Many have vacation homes. Lots go boating, fishing, skiing, etc.

As to the amount the firefighters make, there is a lot of overtime. That's probably OK since with the excellent retirement benefits we really don't want to hire more firefighters. It's probably cheaper to pay overtime.

Good jobs. Pretty attractive pay. Gold plated benefits. Early retirement, excellent pension. It's great.

No reason to feel sorry for firefighters. There aren't that many fires, and there isn't that much work.

You guys should stop complaining. It's unseemly.



Frankly, the issue is not whether or not we care about firefighters. The issue is, however, that the Firefighters want the citizens of Orange County to foot their bill twice out of our tax money. Hell, if there was a crisis within the FA I would be all for Measure D, but as long as 24 firefighters show up to put out a fire that takes 7 minutes to put out, it's NO ON D

By the way Mr. Bartlett, would that Congressional candidate you are referring to happen to be the same one who only 4 months ago thought that amnesty was a pretty good idea, and then changed his mind when it became fashionable? Or the one who voted, for Governor, for the same person who ran as the Socialist Workers' Party for President in 1976? Maybe it's the same guy who is a self-described "left-wing wacko"? Hmm???

Allan Bartlett

Actually those were John Campbell's words Jozef. They were spoken to an OC Register reporter back in 2001. I'd say the Register is pretty credible wouldn't you say?

Powder Blue Report


I would say that the Register is pretty credible...by the way, did you happen to catch this recent article?: http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/local/article_729368.php

Another interesting quote, from Jim Gilchrist, the "Reagan-Republican", this time: “I’m for taxing the ultra-rich more,” he said. “Estate tax? Bring that thing back.”

- Jim Gilchrist quoted in OC Register, 6/20/05

2005? That's only 4 months ago...it's amazing how opinions can change so fast, no? I mean, last I checked he, as of this week, wants to abolish the IRS. Sounds like a certain Junior Senator from Massachussetts' antics to me...

So 24 firefighters show up and put out a fire in 7 minutes... and?

Having never put out a fire myself, I have no idea how to judge those results.

I can tell you this, if I were that homeowners, I'd be relatively glad that the firefighters showed up, and accomplished the task, and probably saved me (and my insurance company) hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But perhaps you'd rather the firefighters not show and instead let the property burn so it could be more spectacular for your sensibilities?


"Hey RP. People like you say that till (sic)they need us.

Then you're (sic)perspective is a little different.

OCFA E67, if I needed you I'd expect you to do the job you signed up for and for which you've been amply remunerated by me (the taxpayer). I hope you aren't suggesting that the level of your pay reflects how badly someone might need you in an emergency (their crisis, not yours).

Compensation ought to be based on the relative scarcity of skills and level of hazard a job entails: Lurk's point (so far unanswered) addressed the actuarial implications of the modern building codes that have reduced the need of putting out fires. A acquaintance of mine who was a firefighter addmitted that his department hardly ever fought fires and that their biggest safety risk was contracting hepatitis. While I took this revelation as anecdotal, I also gave it a certain amount of creedence.

Bruce Matthias raised the point of supply and demand - when fire departments announce openings the applicant line wraps around the block several times. If market forces were in play (like in my job) then that vast supply of willing applicants should be lowering the cost to the public of employing firefighters. But no! Why not? 1) because city councils are full of ex-public safety employees who were able to retire at 50 and get into politics; 2)public safety unions have the time and money to get the right kind of people elected to local offices.


I've invented a new term. I'm going to call it Greenhut. It applies to an individual who makes a statement or postures a position about something they know nothing about.

With that lead in. Screech don't be a Greenhut. Your statements have no substance since you've never been a firefighter. Nor have you applied to be a firefighter. Suffice to say, sometimes a lot of those days off are spent recovering from the day before. There may not be that many fires, but you already knew we do more than just fight fires. Right?? And coincidentally, Greenhut hasn't done any of the above either.

When my union board met with Greenhut to put forth our side of the issue, he also made the statement about thousands of applicants for a position being an indicater of being over compensated. One of the board members present asked him what a proper number of applicants per position would indicate a proper level of compensation. Greenhut, being a Greenhut had no response other than to start blabbering something about the 'free market'. Which is a standard libertarian answer for "I don't know what I'm talking about".

So Screech (and please tell me you're not named after the Dustin Diamond character), what is a proper number of applicants per opening that would indicate to you a proper level of compensation for firefighters? Certainly you've thought this through before making that statement. Don't be a blind follower and turn into a Greenhut.


OCFA E67, facts are facts. What did I say that was not true? Go ahead, state exactly where my error was, I will admit it. Make your case with facts.

I like Greenhut but I have very significant philosophical differences with him and OCR. I am not a starry eyed libertarian like the guys at OCR who want everything to be bought and sold on the free market, even things that cannot be like electricity.

At the current compensation fire jobs are well regarded, under great demand.

Heck, you could cut firefighter pay 30% and still have no problem filling those jobs. I don't know how far you could cut that pay before it WOULD be a problem finding applicants, but there is little chance of that.

So stop complaining about pay. Complain about something else, please. It's just not seemly. You make a nice income.

It's like when the professional baseball players went on strike over pay. Heck, they are ALL multimillionaires. They are getting no sympathy from me, not on compensation.

I am not against firefighters. But you are going to have to argue something other than pay.

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