Firefighter Pay

The FY 1999 Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (Public Law 105-277) established new firefighter pay provisions that became effective on October 11, 1998. The changes apply to GS-081 firefighters whose regularly established workweeks average 53 hours or more.

The new law:

  1. Eliminates standby duty pay and pays firefighters on an hourly rate basis.
  2. Requires that a 2756-hour factor replace the 2087-hour factor in the derivation of a "firefighter hourly rate."
  3. Provides time-and-one-half overtime pay for all overtime hours. Firefighters who are FLSA exempt will still be capped at 1-1/2 times the GS-10 rate but they will not be paid less than their individual rate of basic pay.
  4. Provides special pay computations for firefighters whose regular tour includes a 40-hour workweek.
  5. Bars payment of any other premium pay.
  6. Guarantees no loss in regular pay during employer-sanctioned training.
  7. Treats the straight rate portion of overtime pay for overtime hours in the firefighter's regular tour of duty as basic pay for retirement and certain other purposes.

The Federal rules governing firefighter pay are at title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 550, Subpart M.

For the typical FLSA-covered firefighter with a 72-hour workweek, the new law results in a total pay increase of about 9 percent.


The overtime hourly rate for FLSA-covered firefighters is one and one-half times the firefighter (2756-basis) hourly rate of basic pay, regardless of the type of work schedule.

The overtime rate for FLSA-exempt firefighter is one and one-half times the firefighter (2756-basis) hourly rate of basic pay unless this exceeds one and one-half times the hourly rate of GS-10, step 1 on the applicable pay schedule (2087-hour basis) then the overtime rate is that for GS-10, step 1 or the individual's own non-overtime firefighter (2756-basis) hourly rate of basic pay whichever is greater.


Hours worked in excess of 53 in an administrative workweek (106 in a biweekly pay period) are paid under the overtime rates described above.


Pay is calculated differently for firefighters who have a basic 40-hour workweek (i.e., five 8-hour days that are a part of the regular tour of duty or a fixed and recurring block of 40 hours of actual work during each administrative workweek excluding sleep and standby duty hours provided the regular tour of duty does not consist primarily of 24-hour shifts)

For firefighters with a basic 40-hour workweek, the normal General Schedule hourly rate (using a 2087-hour factor) is used to compute pay for the basic 40-hour workweek, and then the firefighter (2756 basis) hourly rate of basic pay is used to compute pay for nonovertime hours beyond the basic 40 hour workweek.


The sum of the pay for nonovertime hours that are part of a firefighters regular tour of duty and the straight-time portion of overtime pay for hours in the regular tour of duty are treated as basic pay for the following:

  1. Retirement deductions and benefits;
  2. Life insurance premiums and benefits;
  3. Severance pay;
  4. Nonforeign area cost-of-living allowances and post allowances.

Content last reviewed: 5/30/2006-RJM

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This page was last revised: 12/5/2011