Conventional wisdom states that the greatest cost incurred by an institution will typically be its payroll. Fire departments, despite their high expenditures on equipment and insurances, appear to be no exception.
The top chart shows total fire department spending across 10 cities. The bottom shows those same cities’ payroll total. Both charts are expressed in per capita figures.
Flint MI, and Modesto CA spent half of fire budget on payroll, the lowest ratio of this set. Providence RI and Syracuse NY on the other hand expended over 90% of their fire budget paying their employees.