The Average Salary of a Fire Lieutenant

by Doug Desjardins; Updated September 26, 2017
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A fire lieutenant works on the front lines of a fire crew supervising other firefighters. The salary fire lieutenants earn varies depending on the size of the fire department they work for and the region of the country where they work.

Fire Lieutenant Job

A fire lieutenant works as a regular firefighter but is in charge of supervising firefighting crews. The lieutenant is second-in-command to the fire captain and is in charge of the day-to-day operations of a firehouse, training new firefighters and supervising and directing firefighters at the scene of a fire or other emergency event. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a fire lieutenant requires several years of experience as a fire engineer or firefighter and advanced degrees in fire engineering or fire science to qualify for the position. And before becoming a fire lieutenant, applicants must pass written and physical exams to qualify.

Average Salary

According to the International City-County Management Association, the minimum average base salary of a fire lieutenant as of May 2008 was $50,464 and the maximum annual base salary was $60,772. But that salary can increase significantly if fire lieutenants work overtime or put in additional shifts. In 2008, 66 percent of all firefighters were union members and were entitled to a rich benefits package in addition to their base salary along with a pension plan that becomes available after 25 years of service or earlier if a firefighter is disabled in the line of duty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of firefighters is expected to increase 18 percent from 2008 to 2018, the largest overall increase in any profession, as volunteer firefighters on small departments are replaced by paid professionals.

Fire Investigation Lieutenant Salary

According to job-search website Salary Expert, a fire lieutenant who works as a fire investigator makes slightly more on average than a standard fire lieutenant. As of September 2011, it listed the average annual salary of a fire investigation lieutenant in Chicago at $66,235 per year with the average salary in the Dallas area estimated at $59,873 per year. On the lower end, the average annual salary of a fire investigation lieutenant in Orlando, Florida was listed at $50,316 per year and $51,151 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Larger Cities, Better Pay

Fire lieutenants in large cities can make significantly more money. In 2011, the New York City Fire Department website listed the base salary for a fire lieutenant at $94,300. It also listed "fringe benefits" such as overtime, holidays, and paid vacations that can add $31,548 to a base salary to bring total salary and benefits to $125,848 per year. The high annual salary for fire investigation lieutenants in Chicago is another example of fire lieutenants in large cities earning better salaries.

About the Author

Doug Desjardins is a journalist and research analyst. He has worked for more than a half-dozen newspapers, magazines and websites and hiswork has appeared in a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Magazine.

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