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In defending their large salaries, pensions and early retirements (say, at age 50), government safety workers cite the dangers of their jobs. But U.S. Labor Department data for 2009 show other kinds of jobs are far more dangerous, according to MarketWatch. For example, the rate of fatal occupational injuries for farmers and ranchers is 38.5 per 100,000 full-time workers. The rate is 4.4 for firefighters and 13.1 for police and sheriff's patrol officers. The rate for aircraft pilots and flight engineers is 57.1 and for fishing workers 200. The average rate for civilian workers is 3.3.

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Comments

paul Feb. 15, 2011 @ 1:28 p.m.

Don,

Not only that, but the last year for which I checked stats showed roughly half of the fatal accidents for police officers were due to traffic accidents. The most dangerous job for a policeman is driving and making stops where you are standing in traffic. I believe that sanitation workers had an even higher fatality rate than police due to the same risks (lots of driving and exposure to traffic), yet nobody is begging to give them more in pay and pensions.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 15, 2011 @ 5:12 p.m.

Not only that, but the last year for which I checked stats showed roughly half of the fatal accidents for police officers were due to traffic accidents.

The average annual deaths on duty for cops has been between 150-250 going back 40 years or more (it has been going down even though population has gone up due to better training), and in nealry all years at least half are from vehicle accidents.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2011 @ 8:36 p.m.

But those traffic accidents often involve dangerous duty. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2011 @ 8:35 p.m.

Municipal bus drivers suffer more injuries per capita than police and firefighters. Best, Don Bauder

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MsGrant Feb. 15, 2011 @ 3:01 p.m.

Your blog and column have gone a long way toward changing my mind about this. And surfpuppy. I have to share with you my experience this weekend. I was hiking Cowles Mountain Saturday and the rescue helicopter came - a woman had slipped, fallen and injured herself. They lowered a rescue worker (we watched and I took a photo) and we proceeded down the mountain. Guess what greeted us at the base? FIVE rescue vehicles, including one fire truck, and no less than fifteen members of the San Diego Fire Department. This on top of the chopper - for a broken ankle!! I took a photo of them as well, just standing around.

Today I read that San Diego needs to add ten new fire stations.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 15, 2011 @ 5:15 p.m.

Yes, when there are accidents or rescues the troops show up in force!

I don't think the job of LE can ever be outsourced, but I do think FF could.

The problem with FF is you never know if their requests for more stations/manpower are legit b/c they are so self serving.

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Don Bauder Feb. 15, 2011 @ 8:45 p.m.

Yes, there can be overkill. When you look at the pay of government workers, you can't bunch them all together. I will stand up for school teachers forever, having immaturely and dispiteously harassed several in my youth. I know ecologists, environmentalists, engineers, inspectors of various kinds in government jobs who deserve more than they are being paid. But in San Diego, at least, I believe that police and firefighters get excessive pay and pensions, and are permitted to retire too early. Some government employees, such as those on the CCDC payroll, are working for the development industry, not the public. We have to take these things one at a time, and a good first move would be to abolish CCDC. Best, Don Bauder

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mousehouse March 17, 2011 @ 10:32 a.m.

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Visduh Feb. 15, 2011 @ 8:51 p.m.

While I can't say that I was aware that such occupations as farming and ranching were highly hazardous, I was well aware of the dangers to construction workers. The workers comp rates for those occupations were about as high as any. Within the category, roofers were especially at risk. They do all the dangerous things that carpenters do, but they do them on roofs, often very high up. So, in addition to the dangers of pneumatic nail guns, they can also fall off roofs, or through roofs, and get back strain. And do it all in the hot, unrelenting sun.

Few people really want to see cops come to harm, and as a result many of us might think that they are all at high risk. But most of them who get disability retirement don't end up there due to being shot or assaulted. They get back injuries from doing things like lifting obese passed-out drunks into and out of squad cars. The fire fighters have similar risks of injury when dealing with the public. When they get one of those increasingly-rare calls that actually involves fire and not a medical need, a few suffer from smoke inhalation. But most of the smoke-related cases come during the periodic wildfires that chew up miles of back country, not house or industrial fires.

So, should we be paying all the roofers $200K a year with full, generous retirement at age 50? I'm certain that if we did, they would soon come to demand that and more. After all, they have one of the most, or the single most, hazardous occupations in the nation. Why not?

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 15, 2011 @ 10:17 p.m.

Roofing liek all the trades is very hazardous...and one reason to pay the contruction trades MORE thana cop or FF is the work is seasonal, and at the total command of the economy. There has been next to NO new construction in 3 years now. Many builders have gone out of business.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 7:08 a.m.

Construction workers tend to drift from one strong market to another, leaving the weak markets -- thus creating difficult conditions for their families. Often, the workers move from, say, San Diego to Montana and just send the money home, like Mexican farm workers. Best, Don Bauder

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mousehouse March 15, 2011 @ 7:21 p.m.

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Ponzi March 15, 2011 @ 9:57 p.m.

Oh Jesus Christ. Police have LESS training than a roofer. Academy is an overrated word. It’s a police school. Roofers serve as apprentices for years before they become journeyman.

Police and firemen are a dime a dozen. They used to be volunteer before we started to pay them and then over-coddle them. There’s going to be a revolution and when it’s over, police and firemen will earn what they should not what they could.

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mousehouse March 17, 2011 @ 10:35 a.m.

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SurfPuppy619 March 15, 2011 @ 10:54 p.m.

Are roofers trained at a Roofing Academy? Police & Fire are highly trained.

The academy, in most cases, is 100% fully paid for by the agency, at FULL compensation. As Ponzi pointed out the trades have to go through a 4 year apprenticeship which includes 16 hours per month of classroom time (not compensated, unlike cop or ff) and of course 40 hours per week of on the job training. The skill stes are really very similar. I would state with 100% convcition the trades are FAR MORE physically demanding jobs.

Cop and FF are GED jobs, nothing more. Cop/FF is neither a technical nor difficult job, and the vast majority of the people who can pass the 10th grade reading test, the very low level physical agility test and have a clean background (of which most are clean) could competently do the job.

I strongly feel if the two jobs were filled by 100% objective civil service testing the make up of the jobs would eb 180 degrees different (these jobs are hired 100% subjectively now due to the so called "oral interview" resulting in huge amounts of nepotism and cronyism hires, not to mention the rubber stamp green light passes former military applicants receive).

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mousehouse March 17, 2011 @ 10:18 a.m.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 7:05 a.m.

Government transit and intercity bus drivers have a nonfatal injury rate of 892 per 10,000 full-time workers, compared with 676 for police and 512 for firefighters. Bus drivers are exposed to force and vibrations while driving. Best, Don Bauder

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I Am Stardirt Feb. 16, 2011 @ 6:36 a.m.

Adding my two cents for the farmers and ranchers. I was a horse shoer for a few years and nothing can kill you as fast as a kick to the head. I have been bitten, stomped, kicked, dragged, smashed, and slammed. That was the easy part of the job.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 7:11 a.m.

I believe that the horse shoer job is one of the more dangerous ones. Those who break wild horses must suffer lots of injuries, too. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:44 a.m.

Interesting comment. It would take some nerves to shoe a horse knowing the potential lethal danger involved.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 10:08 a.m.

I'd never shoe a horse. I have enough difficulty tying my own shoes in the morning. Best, Don Bauder

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I Am Stardirt Feb. 16, 2011 @ 12:22 p.m.

My choice to go to horseshoeing school was an economic one. At eighty dollars every six to eight weeks calling the horseshoer like calling the veterinarian becomes very expensive. I began to shoe my own horses and soon had a business shoeing for my friends and neighbors.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 23, 2011 @ 6:02 a.m.

Wow-this was interesting!!!

Living life to the beat of an anvil and hammer A farrier finds peace and fulfillment shoeing horses where the pavement ends.

. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-farriers-20110223,0,6679934.story .

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Ponzi Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:10 a.m.

Fishers and related fishing is most dangerous Cal-trans workers Roofers Grounds maintenance workers Helpers, construction trades Construction laborer Taxi drivers and chauffeurs Refuse and recyclable material collectors Driver/sales workers and truck drivers Electrical power-line installers and repairers Farmers and ranchers Structural iron and steel workers Aircraft pilots and flight engineers Logging workers

And our military has some high risk jobs with the lowest pay for doing them

When you consider that our young soldiers are deliberately in harm’s way every day while police may only “encounter it on occasion; (sniper bullet, roadside bomb, etc).”, who is the unappreciated and underpaid? I feel our society over-idolizes both firemen and police. They deserve no more and no less than anyone else.
Whenever you hit that pothole, or drive up to a closed library, visit a filthy park, see a beach closed because of a broken sewer line… you may not think of firefighters and police. But I do. I think of their unions blackmailing the taxpayers and the excessive pensions that have put this city on its knees to pay for them and skimp on everything else.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 10:11 a.m.

Agreed. In San Diego, police and firefighters enjoy excessive pay and benefits, and retirements at too early an age. There are many more dangerous occupations. However, in many other cities, pay for these jobs is not so high. So what is it about San Diego? Best, Don Bauder

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Ponzi Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:12 a.m.

The common denominator in most of these dangerous jobs is "transportation" being that the more one works on or around transport on land, air or sea, the more chance of injury or death.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 16, 2011 @ 9:50 a.m.

Fishers and related fishing is most dangerous Cal-trans workers

The common denominator in most of these dangerous jobs is "transportation" being that the more one works on or around transport on land, air or sea, the more chance of injury or death

There was a case I worked on as an intern in Nevada several years ago that involved a young woman who got high on pot and alcohol and took out an entire crew of Nevada Transportation employees-but the ones who were actually working and killed were placed there by the court for public/community service. She killed several innocent people.

CHP also states that a large % of their on the job cop fatalities are from being struck by vehicles-many times like the NV case, someone under the influence of drugs.

So I agree that transportaion is where the major danger lies.

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Don Bauder Feb. 16, 2011 @ 10:13 a.m.

Another good point. Every time I drive by highway workers, I think what dangerous jobs they have. Best, Don Bauder

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dmopbuff Feb. 24, 2011 @ 1:55 p.m.

The reason for lower retirement ages for police and fire is not because of danger, but because of the desire to have departments with younger, more physically fit people. Danger was never the reason.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 24, 2011 @ 4:23 p.m.

The reason for lower retirement ages for police and fire is not because of danger, but because of the desire to have departments with younger, more physically fit people. Danger was never the reason.

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Actually that is not the reason. I have never seen any muni claim they wanted age 50 retirements because they desire "younger" cops, but let me play devils advocate here.

Why can't they have the older cops rotate into dispatch then? Or crossing guard duty at the local K-6?? Or litter pick up on HWY 52?? Are those duties too "dangerous" for the cops at age 50???

BTW-Have you ever heard of age discrimnation lawsuits? You simply cannot give away multi million dollar pensions at age 50 b/c you want "younger" cops/FF's/whatever, money does not grow on tress and the roads are not paved with gold in America, or the states, or the muni's.

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2011 @ 5:35 p.m.

That kind of job rotation is exactly the solution. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2011 @ 5:33 p.m.

Can't they be put in other jobs at age 50? San Diego can't afford to carry them for 30 to 40 years in retirement. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 24, 2011 @ 7:55 p.m.

No one can carry an employee at basically full salary and benefits for more time in retirement than when they were actually working.

Can you imigane if the employees-like safety- did other less physically demanding jobs until age 65, or 66, ot 67?? We would double our municipal employees without adding one cent in costs. Service levels would be sky high (at least in theory).

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2011 @ 8:59 p.m.

The City could also save money by not having to hire others for those desk jobs. Best, Don Bauder

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mousehouse March 14, 2011 @ 6:33 p.m.

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SurfPuppy619 March 15, 2011 @ 10:59 p.m.

You can't have it both ways - you either reward these people for doing dangerous jobs,

We went through this already-the jobs are not dangerous, especially compared to the top 10. Graveyard shift at a 7-11 is 100 times more dangerous than cop, and that is the truth and can be proven up.

with long hours,

They work the same hours as everyone else, a 40 hour work week for cop, 56 for FF, of which half is sleeping, cooking and working out.

that are physically demanding,

Actually they are not physically demanding, at least half of a cops time is report writing, while sitting down, not to mention the same for patrol.

or you accept sub-standard service when you are in need of assistance.

We already have substandard service, it cannot get much worse.

Maybe a Ride-Along would change your mind.

I can guarantee you I know as much or more about cop work than you do.

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mousehouse March 17, 2011 @ 10:14 a.m.

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Ponzi March 18, 2011 @ 8:05 a.m.

That happens in a lot of occupations. When I was working for various corporations, I had to eat at my desk. Boo hoo. I did not have a stove to be distracted from. I had to brown bag it or eat food heated in a microwave. Also, I was never disrupted from working out at work. Like 99.5% of people, I had to work- out on my own time. Not after I shined the chrome on my work vehicle. The phone takes me away from meals, barking dogs wake me up, and sometimes work stress just makes it hard to sleep.

What you described sounds like you have sympathy for your husband, but it’s not a compelling argument to support college level pay for high school educated people and certainly not retirement at 50 for life with all kinds of benefits. The firefighters and police unions need to be pushed back; they are getting far more than other more worthy occupations both public and private. I respect teachers and nurses more.

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Ponzi March 18, 2011 @ 8:10 p.m.

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mousehouse March 14, 2011 @ 6:39 p.m.

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SurfPuppy619 March 18, 2011 @ 10:49 a.m.

Ms. Mouse, cops and ff's in this state are comping in the top 3-5% of income earners in the nation, BEFORE any overtime is added in and these jobs have tremendous amount sof OT built into the job. They have bullet proof job security with no risk or chance of ever being laid off or fired short of a felony criminal conviction. The background needed to be hired-as young as age 20.5- is next to nothing and these jobs are not given out based on merit civil service testing.

You need to understand that your hubby is no better than anyone else working a trade occupation (cop//ff are not professions), and as much as you and him and the rest of the cop/ff industrial complex try to paint yourselves as superheros today, the public is not biting anymore. The gravy train, wealth accumulation compensation days are in their final days. You can take that to the bank.

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mousehouse March 19, 2011 @ 2:22 p.m.

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SurfPuppy619 March 19, 2011 @ 6:10 p.m.

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