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A Contra Costa County fire truck. (NPR)

Episode 424: How Much Is A Firefighter Worth?

Dec 18, 2012

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On today's show, we visit Fire Station Six in Contra Costa County, Calif.

Firefighters don't go to fires as much as much as they used to. That's because, thanks to modern building codes, fires are much less common than they used to be. Yet the fire dept is still set up the same way: big trucks, lots of fire stations, and lots of firefighters who retire with lifetime pensions.

Rather than close fire stations, the firefighters in Contra Costa County agreed to take a pay cut a few years back. But the county still couldn't afford the fire department.

So the firefighters came up with a new plan: Ask the local citizens to support the fire department by paying higher taxes.

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