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Wildfires Are Destroying the West Coast: Here’s How Much First Responders Make in Every State

©Noah Berger/AP/Shutterstock

©Noah Berger/AP/Shutterstock

As wildfires rage from Washington down to California, displacing thousands of residents and destroying billions of dollars in property, first responders have stepped in to provide aid. Being on the front line in an emergency is a scary job, but someone has to do it. It turns out, though, they might not be doing it for all that much.

GOBankingRates looked at the salaries of emergency personnel, including firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and police officers in every state using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their salaries ranged widely across the country. For instance, firefighters in West Virginia make just $30,180 — $24,470 below the average U.S. salary for the profession. In California, on the other hand, firefighters are paid $84,370 but must contend with a higher cost of living and massive infernos every year.

So, are firefighters, police officers and EMTs and paramedics really making enough money to put their lives on the line every day? That’s a matter of opinion. To help you decide, GOBankingRates ranked and ordered the states from worst to best for emergency personnel. Find out whether or not these workers are making bank in your state.

Last updated: Sept. 11, 2020

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50. Mississippi

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,480
  • Police annual wage: $36,290
  • Firefighter annual wage: $30,180
RyanJLane / Getty Images

49. West Virginia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $29,920
  • Police annual wage: $44,450
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,890
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48. Kentucky

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $31,250
  • Police annual wage: $46,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $34,030
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47. Arkansas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,660
  • Police annual wage: $40,570
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,730
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46. Kansas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $30,890
  • Police annual wage: $49,910
  • Firefighter annual wage: $37,250
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45. Alabama

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $30,240
  • Police annual wage: $46,510
  • Firefighter annual wage: $41,870
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44. South Carolina

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,670
  • Police annual wage: $43,520
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,360
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43. Georgia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,450
  • Police annual wage: $44,700
  • Firefighter annual wage: $38,900
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42. North Carolina

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $38,270
  • Police annual wage: $47,340
  • Firefighter annual wage: $34,110
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41. Louisiana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $42,310
  • Police annual wage: $42,470
  • Firefighter annual wage: $31,150
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40. South Dakota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,620
  • Police annual wage: $49,690
  • Firefighter annual wage: $45,820
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39. New Mexico

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,410
  • Police annual wage: $53,750
  • Firefighter annual wage: $36,620
©Shutterstock.com

38. Maine

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,690
  • Police annual wage: $53,170
  • Firefighter annual wage: $39,430

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37. Vermont

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,570
  • Police annual wage: $53,070
  • Firefighter annual wage: $39,970

Find Out: What the Average Take-Home Salary Looks Like in Your State

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36. Utah

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,630
  • Police annual wage: $56,170
  • Firefighter annual wage: $38,360
©Shutterstock.com

35. Oklahoma

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,170
  • Police annual wage: $48,060
  • Firefighter annual wage: $44,860
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34. Tennessee

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $38,500
  • Police annual wage: $45,370
  • Firefighter annual wage: $44,400
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33. Michigan

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $33,760
  • Police annual wage: $58,770
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,010
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32. Montana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $32,050
  • Police annual wage: $56,710
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,880
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31. Idaho

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $39,330
  • Police annual wage: $54,120
  • Firefighter annual wage: $39,260
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30. Wyoming

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,430
  • Police annual wage: $56,120
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,180
©Shutterstock.com

29. Wisconsin

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,940
  • Police annual wage: $63,970
  • Firefighter annual wage: $40,360
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28. North Dakota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,150
  • Police annual wage: $58,770
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,080
©Shutterstock.com

27. Ohio

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,020
  • Police annual wage: $62,880
  • Firefighter annual wage: $47,820

See: Best Places To Live on a $50,000 Salary in Every State

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26. Missouri

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,120
  • Police annual wage: $51,860
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,110
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25. Indiana

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,350
  • Police annual wage: $56,780
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,050
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24. Iowa

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,720
  • Police annual wage: $59,730
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,640
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23. Nebraska

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $35,500
  • Police annual wage: $58,860
  • Firefighter annual wage: $50,150
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22. New Hampshire

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,710
  • Police annual wage: $58,820
  • Firefighter annual wage: $47,120
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21. Virginia

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,040
  • Police annual wage: $58,330
  • Firefighter annual wage: $53,470
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20. Florida

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $36,190
  • Police annual wage: $60,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $51,300
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19. Arizona

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $38,350
  • Police annual wage: $66,970
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,870
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18. Texas

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,000
  • Police annual wage: $63,740
  • Firefighter annual wage: $54,760
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17. Pennsylvania

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $34,310
  • Police annual wage: $68,940
  • Firefighter annual wage: $58,720
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16. Minnesota

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $43,620
  • Police annual wage: $71,840
  • Firefighter annual wage: $39,390
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15. Rhode Island

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $40,820
  • Police annual wage: $63,690
  • Firefighter annual wage: $56,150
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14. Delaware

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $43,200
  • Police annual wage: $73,740
  • Firefighter annual wage: $46,390

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13. Nevada

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,320
  • Police annual wage: $73,660
  • Firefighter annual wage: $69,310
Mihajlo Maricic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

12. Colorado

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $41,880
  • Police annual wage: $75,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $63,050
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11. Illinois

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $43,310
  • Police annual wage: $78,350
  • Firefighter annual wage: $58,170
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10. Massachusetts

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $44,140
  • Police annual wage: $72,400
  • Firefighter annual wage: $62,680
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9. Oregon

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $42,660
  • Police annual wage: $73,300
  • Firefighter annual wage: $68,540

Check Out: 20 Best Credit Unions for First Responders

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8. Connecticut

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $46,510
  • Police annual wage: $73,270
  • Firefighter annual wage: $65,700
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7. Maryland

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $50,750
  • Police annual wage: $71,170
  • Firefighter annual wage: $62,750
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6. New Jersey

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $37,550
  • Police annual wage: $86,840
  • Firefighter annual wage: $80,890
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5. Alaska

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $50,640
  • Police annual wage: $87,870
  • Firefighter annual wage: $54,380
©Unsplash

4. New York

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $44,920
  • Police annual wage: $77,490
  • Firefighter annual wage: $75,160
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3. Hawaii

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $56,610
  • Police annual wage: $78,720
  • Firefighter annual wage: $64,110
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2. Washington

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $56,140
  • Police annual wage: $80,200
  • Firefighter annual wage: $76,970
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1. California

  • EMT/paramedic annual wage: $43,680
  • Police annual wage: $105,220
  • Firefighter annual wage: $84,370

More From GOBankingRates

Photos are for illustrative purposes only. As a result, some of the images may not reflect the states listed in this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined how much first responders earn in every state, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics for May 2019 (latest data available) for the mean annual wages of three core first responder jobs in all 50 U.S. states: (1) police and sheriff’s patrol officers, (2) emergency medical technicians and paramedics and (3) firefighters. Each job’s salary was scored, added up and ranked from worst paying states to best. All data compiled on Sept. 9, 2020.