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Becoming a firefighter in Hawaii can be an exciting and rewarding career choice for those looking to help and protect their communities. Naturally, the question arises – how much can you expect to earn as a firefighter in the Hawaiian islands?

In short, the average firefighter salary in Hawaii is around $54,000 per year. However, salaries can range from $33,000 for a rookie to over $86,000 for high ranking veterans.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of Hawaii firefighter salaries based on experience level, location, bonuses and other compensation.

Base Salary Range for Hawaii Firefighters

Starting or Rookie Salaries

New firefighters in Hawaii, often called “rookies,” typically start with salaries between $40,000 and $45,000 per year. This provides a livable wage for those just entering the profession while allowing room for pay increases with experience.

Average and Experienced Salaries

The average salary for firefighters in Hawaii is around $54,000 per year according to salary data. Firefighters with several years of experience under their belts often earn closer to $60,000 annually.

For example, a firefighter paramedic with 5 years experience makes an average base pay of $59,760 in Honolulu according to official 2021 data. Pretty good pay for an exciting and rewarding public service job!

Salaries for Leadership Roles

Firefighters who get promoted to leadership roles as captains, battalion chiefs, deputy chiefs, and fire chiefs have the potential to make over $100,000 in base salary alone.

For instance, a Fire Captain in Honolulu starts around $116,000 annually while a Battalion Chief starts around $132,000 according to official statistics.

The Fire Chief in Honolulu makes over $180,000! So there is ample room for advancement and pay increases for firefighters who rise up the ranks.

Salaries by Location in Hawaii

Honolulu

As the capital and largest city in Hawaii, Honolulu offers some of the highest salaries for firefighters in the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for firefighters in the Honolulu metropolitan area is $54,950.

This is significantly higher than the national average of $56,360 for firefighters.

Within the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD), firefighter salaries range from $46,068 for a Fire Recruit to $132,876 for the Fire Chief. The current pay scale for HFD is as follows:

  • Fire Recruit: $46,068
  • Fire Fighter II: $59,772
  • Fire Captain: $100,956
  • Battalion Chief: $115,596
  • Assistant Chief: $124,092
  • Deputy Chief: $130,164
  • Fire Chief: $132,876

The cost of living is high in Honolulu, but the relatively good salaries help make up for it. Excellent benefits, job security, and opportunities for overtime also add to the appeal of a firefighting career here.

Maui

Salaries for firefighters on the island of Maui are strong as well. According to Glassdoor data, the average base pay for a Firefighter/EMT in Maui County is $60,198 per year. Experienced captains and engineers can earn over $100,000 annually.

The Makawao firefighter union recently negotiated a new contract with the county. Some of the key details include:

  • 3% raise in July 2023
  • Longevity pay increases
  • $500 one-time bonus

The union was pleased with securing improved wages and benefits after two years of negotiations. Maui County spokesperson Mahina Martin also highlighted that it helps them retain talented first responders protecting the community.

Kauai

Salaries for Kauai firefighters are tracked closely to their counterparts on Maui. Base pay starts at around $60,000 according to the Kauai Fire Department administration. With overtime, it is possible to earn over $100,000 as an experienced firefighter or engineer.

In 2021, Kauai firefighters also secured a new four-year contract with the county. Some of the key details include:

  • 2.5% raise per year
  • $2,500 one-time bonus
  • Increased county contribution to health plan premiums

Kauai firefighters put in long hours working 24-hour shifts to serve the community. The salary bumps and bonuses help compensate them fairly for this demanding but rewarding job.

Hawaii Island

On Hawaii Island, salaries for firefighters fall somewhere in the middle compared to the other islands. According to Glassdoor data, the average reported base pay for Hawaii County firefighters is $55,305.

In 2019, Hawaii County increased minimum firefighter salaries to $60,000 annually in an effort to improve recruitment and retention. Certain ranks, qualifications, seniority, and overtime can still enable total earnings over $100k.

While Hawaii Island firefighter salaries are rising, the Fire Chief indicated that staffing shortages remain an ongoing challenge. Hawaii County is large in size, and many fire stations are still in need of more personnel to provide adequate coverage across communities.

Bonuses and Additional Compensation

Overtime Pay

Firefighters in Hawaii often work overtime to provide adequate protection and response capabilities for their communities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters in Hawaii earned an average mean wage of $28.40 per hour as of 2021.

This means any hours worked over 40 in a week are paid at 1.5 times their hourly wage, resulting in overtime pay of $42.60 per hour.

Hazard Pay

In addition to overtime pay, Hawaii firefighters may receive hazard pay when responding to exceptionally dangerous situations like wildfires, floods, or hazardous material incidents. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), hazard pay can add 5-25% premiums on top of regular wages.

Education Pay

Most firefighter positions in Hawaii require some level of formal education such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fire science or a related field. Many departments offer education pay incentives to encourage firefighters to pursue higher education.

For example, the Hawaii Fire Department provides pay increases of 5-10% for approved degrees and certifications.

Health Insurance and Retirement Benefits

In addition to wages, Hawaii firefighters receive attractive benefits packages including:

  • Health insurance covering medical, dental, and vision, often with no monthly premiums for the firefighter.
  • Disability coverage providing wage replacement for work-related injuries or illnesses.
  • Life insurance equal to 1-2 times their annual salary.
  • A defined benefit pension plan through the Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System providing up to 70% of their peak salary after 30 years of service.

The total value of Hawaii firefighter benefits packages can amount to 30-50% of wages, providing substantial additional compensation.

Job Outlook for Hawaii Firefighters

The job outlook for firefighters in Hawaii looks quite promising. With increasing population and development, along with the constant threat of natural disasters like wildfires, floods, and hurricanes, Hawaii will continue to have a strong need for qualified firefighters.

Growing Population and Development

Hawaii’s population grew by over 160,000 residents between 2010-2020, reaching 1.45 million people. This steady population growth, along with continuing resort and housing development, is expected to drive ongoing demand for fire protection services across the islands.

For example, a new affordable housing development called Ho’oulu ‘Δ€ina is being built near Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. Large projects like this require reviews by county fire departments to ensure adequate fire response capabilities are available.

Threat of Wildfires and Other Disasters

In addition to routine calls, Hawaii’s firefighters must regularly battle wildfires and respond to other natural disasters. For instance, the 2018 volcanic eruption in Lower Puna destroyed over 700 homes, requiring emergency response from Hawaii County firefighters.

Climate change is also worsening drought conditions statewide, raising wildfire risks, especially on Hawaii’s leeward sides. With over 25,000 acres burned just last year, wildfires will continue to demand well-trained firefighter response.

Many Upcoming Firefighter Openings

Excellent job opportunities are expected due to a wave of veteran firefighter retirements combined with population-driven demand for new recruits. For example, over the next five years Honolulu County anticipates needing to hire 300 new firefighters to replace retirees and fill new positions.

To become a firefighter in Hawaii generally requires a high school diploma or GED. Candidates must also pass written and physical ability tests, complete fire academy training, hold a valid driver’s license, and meet vision, hearing and health requirements.

Conclusion

Becoming a firefighter in paradise may sound like a dream job, and in many ways it is. Hawaii firefighters earn competitive salaries while making a difference in their communities.

While rookie salaries start around $33,000, there is ample room for pay increases with experience. The average pay is $54,000 but veterans can earn over $86,000.

Along with a stable base income, firefighters receive generous overtime, hazard pay, insurance and retirement benefits. When considering a fulfilling and exciting career path in Hawaii, firefighting checks all the boxes.

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