NPR: Planet Money Podcast

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Money makes the world go around, faster and faster every day. On NPR's Planet Money, you'll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks -- all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy.

NPR: Planet Money Podcast navigateright Episode

#424: How Much Is A Firefighter Worth?

On today's show, we visit Fire Station Six in Contra Costa County, Calif.

Firefighters don't go to fires as much as much as they used to. That's because, thanks to modern building codes, fires are not as common as they used to be. Yet the fire dept is still set up the same way: big trucks, lots of fire stations, and lots of firefighters who retire with lifetime pensions.

Rather than close fire stations, the firefighters in Contra Costa County agreed to take a pay cut a few years back. But the county still couldn't afford the fire department.

So the firefighters came up with a new plan: Ask the local citizens to support the fire department by paying higher taxes.