I would like to provide an alternate view to the analysis of the cost data presented by Chief Gorski as reviewed in the 1/11/11 Englewood Sun.
The Englewood Fire District cost per capita ($149.31) is indeed 3rd lowest out of the thirteen departments reviewed in that article.   However, cost per capita is not the only relevant metric to judge cost effectiveness.  In fact a clearer picture may be had by using the metric - cost per call.  When the various fire departments are compared by this measure, Englewood (at $2,684/call) is 8th  lowest (or fifth highest) out of 13. In addition, doing the same analysis and including user fees doesn’t improve Englewood’s cost effectiveness ranking(1).

The majority (82%) of the Englewood Fire District costs are salaries and benefits(2).   Thus, that is the major factor affecting the rankings.  Reviewing the available union contracts(3) reveals that the Englewood salaries are above those of North Port, Sarasota and Venice(4).  The average Englewood salary is $70,589(5) ($75,339 including overtime, incentives, etc.) vs. Sarasota’s $40,616.  For another comparison, the national median  for fire fighter salary is $41,184 (see chart below).  Since Englewood’s cost of living index is 93% of the national average(6) it’s hard to justify this.

To quote Tim Pawlenty(7) “Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt.”  The vicious cycle of one union using leverage to get better pay followed by other unions in the region protesting until their pay is equalized must be broken.  Where there is no competition to control costs, the result is obvious. Out of control spending.

While the profession of firefighter is a noble cause and a benefit to society, it is not an entitlement to unrealistic salaries and perks not found in the private sector.  Again, to quote Governor Pawlenty, “The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment. Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters, and working families once again need someone to stand up for them”.

By making sure the full story is known and ALL the facts are brought to light we will hopefully avoid the ruinous financial collapses happening or about to happen in municipalities around the country.  As strong as it is, even Englewood could be crushed financially if we are not vigilant.


Fire Fighter - U.S. National Averages

Source:   ( )















  1. Source:
  2. FY’10: $5,595,519 salaries & benefits; $6,859,662 total expenditures (see )
  3. (2) available at and summarized at  and
  4. FY’10: Englewood FF $38K-$64K, , North Port FF $38K-$60K, Sarasota FF/EMT $30K-$42K, Venice FF/PM $35K-$61K
  5. Same source as (2): full time salaries=$3,811,823,( including overtime $4,068,332) divided over 54
  6. total Best Places


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