NY Firemen after 9-11

To be honest I could have sworn that I had blogged about this already, but I did a search and couldn’t find anything.
I want to write an empirical paper that compares the quality of firemen in Manhattan before and after 9-11. My theory is that the abilities or quality of the average fireman after 9-11 declined compared to before. “Well that’s because we lost some of our best and brightest,” you might say. My theory is that the decline is due to the increased non-monetary rewards of approbation after the attacks. In other words, firemen receive both a financial salary plus whatever sort of honors and prestige come with the position. After 9-11, my guess is that the approbation rewards for firemen shot through the roof but the monetary wages remained relatively the same. In this new pay out structure there is less control over the particular incentives that induce quality. Even bad firemen (I need some proxy variable for quality: results on tests, response time, etc) get high approbation rewards. When the slacker fireman or the guy who just isn’t pulling his weight lately shows up at a cocktail party and people find out he’s a fireman they still ooh and ahhh at his bravery right along side the top performers.
Maybe there are even some implications about the cultural identity of firemen. My guess is that most fireman’s opportunity costs of becoming a fireman is some other line of blue collar labor. Where as given higher approbation pay scales, people with higher opportunity costs join the field. Maybe before 9-11 most firemen joined the team to make a living and provide for their families, whereas after the attacks the applicant pools were filled with thrill seekers and spectators.

2 thoughts on “NY Firemen after 9-11

  1. According to Wiki neither the NYFD nor the NYPD seem to pay that well given the risks, competition, and meager opportunities for interdepartmental advancement — could be too that the approbation rewards made the top firemen hot-ticket (awful pun shamelessly intended) items for better-paying firehouses.

  2. I do not believe that the quality of firemen in manhattan will decline. If it does I think it will be for other reasons.
    I agree with your point about a slacker fireman at a cocktail party still getting praised, but i feel it was that way before 911. A Fireman has always been a glory job, because you are right, they do not get paid that much and never have. So the reason for becomming a firefighter has to be for reasons other than monetary, mainly priase at how they put their lives in danger for others.
    If you think about what makes a good firefighter, beeing a thrill seeker is not a bad quality to have. Who is more likely to rush into a burning building to save the life of someone they do not know; The family man with a wife and two kids at home who is there just to make a living and support them, or the thrill seeker who is probably a single male between the ages of 18-25 who wants to have his name on TV or in the paper, to gain that praise?
    When you look at it, the family man has no incentive to go beyond the call of duty. He needs to do his job and get back home to his family in one peice becuase his family cannot survive with out his income.
    The thrill seeker is not in it for the money. His incentive IS to go into the buring building and SAVE the unknown person or persons in the building. This will let him get his reward by becomming “famous” for his daring rescue.
    After 911, if the quality of firemen dropped, it was becuase they realised that you can die from being a fireman, and the ones who would go into a building all of a sudden started to rethink the cost of their incentive.
    ps. you never told me what you thought of my other paper.

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