Cop, firefighter pay roughly doubled over 15 years

I took a look at some of Fremont’s employee contracts going back through the years. One thing to note: Fremont uses several cities as a benchmark to determine if police and firefighters are being adequately compensated.

Fremont looks to pay an average of the top five cities in the group. All of the benchmark cities are in the immediate Bay Area except one. That one would also be the only one to have gone bankrupt: Vallejo.

It’s been 16 years since public safety officers went without a raise. During this time, their salaries have outpaced inflation. And their pension benefits have become much more generous. More on that later.

In 1994, a starting Fremont firefighter made 3,144 a month or $37,728

This year, firefighter starts out at just over $6,365 per month or $76,384

In 1994, a rookie cop made a base salary of $3,686 per month or $44,232

This year, a rookie cop starts out at just over $6,742 per month or $80,906 per year

Matt Artz


  1. The “Rule of 70” allows one to calcuate a doubling rate. When the percentage increase multiplied by the number of years reaches 70, the original number is doubled (5% increase for 14 years=double the original number, or 7% for 10 years, etc.)

    In the comparison here, it shows essentially an average increase of 5% per year.

  2. Using the CPI (consumer price index) as a measure for inflation adjusted wages…

    For fire fighters, $37,728 in 1994 dollars is $54,442 in 2009 dollars.

    For cops, $44,232 in 1994 dollars is $63,828 in 2009 dollars.

    It appears cops are paid 27% more than inflation adjusted pay, and firefighters are paid a whopping 40% more.


  3. “In the comparison here, it shows essentially an average increase of 5% per year.”

    Gus, I am curious if you even understand what you are replying to. Are you insinuating that this is only a 5% per year increase which is in line with expected merit raises in pay?

    I ask you to consider that Matt is reporting a doubling in STARTING pay, that is the day a firefighter shows up in 2009, he is paid 140% more than the guy who showed up for his first day in 1994.

  4. I was making no judgements, simply showing off my little rule which is quite useful.

  5. . . . . . add in the fringe benefits for retirement, medical, and other compensation- the above ONLY is direct compensation and does NOT include fringes. . . . which are equally extravegant when compare to private sector.

    These people use fright to justify exhorbitant salary and benefits that are breaking the economic back of cities everywhere. . . .. . .

  6. Pay is one thing, benefits are another. The pay increase seems high (but not completely out of line), but the extravegant healthcare for life benefits are out of line with anything that can be achieved in the private sector. I don’t like working to support government workers who are there to support me! One way to balance the budget is to reduce fringe benefits for all state and city employees.

  7. John, the increase is completely out of line. Imagine if the price of a can of Coke in 1994 was 50 cents. Tracking inflation from 1994 to 2009 that can of Coke should cost 72 cents today.

    But what if instead of 72 cents, Coke charged 1 dollar? Your ability to buy that can of Coke in 2009 has been greatly diminished because the increase in price has outpaced inflation.

    That’s where we stand with firefighter pay. Our ability to pay their salaries has diminished because rises in starting pay have outpaced inflation.

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