A fire captain is a firefighter with a rank in the middle of a department's hierarchy, above fire lieutenants but below ranks such as chief and deputy chief. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fire captains earn between $60,000 and $72,000 while actively employed. Despite their middle ranks, fire captains can look forward to secure retirement income from several different sources.
A retired fire captain's retirement income is likely to come, in large part, from a pension plan. Most fire departments offer pension plans to all ranks of firefighters as an employee benefit. According to the BLS, a typical pension plan offers half pay after 25 years of service. This means that a fire captain's pension may provide between $30,000 and $36,000 per year, based on BLS salary statistics.
Social Security is another source of income for retired fire captains. Social Security benefits vary based on a worker's age and average income while working. According to Social Security Online's benefits calculator, earning the BLS average minimum of $60,000 per year, a fire captain would receive between $1,300 and $2,100 in monthly Social Security benefits. Combined with a pension, this means a retired fire captain can make anywhere from $45,600 to $61,200 each year.
Although fire departments offer generous pension programs, fire captains can augment their retirement income by opening retirement accounts on their own. These savings accounts take money from each paycheck and invest it in a fund that uses stocks, bonds and other financial instruments to earn interest and grow up until the point of retirement. Even the minimum $60,000 range salary for the rank allows a fire captain to invest a great deal of money into an individual retirement account, or IRA, while working. Income during retirement depends on how much a fire captain invests and how well the investments perform.
Owing to the dangerous nature of their jobs, some fire captains retire early due to injuries or disabilities suffered in the line of duty. According to the BLS, fire captain pension plans pay half salaries to disabled retirees regardless of service time. Workplace injuries may also supply fire captains with additional Social Security disability benefits prior to reaching retirement eligibility age.
2016 Salary Information for Firefighters
Firefighters earned a median annual salary of $48,030 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, firefighters earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,670, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $64,870, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 327,300 people were employed in the U.S. as firefighters.