Firefighter retirement


Q: I am a federal firefighter who works a 72-hour workweek. This is the required hours that I work. As a GS-8, Step 9, I make $83,658 per year. However, my “High Three” would be based off of the firefighter base pay of $73,906. I know that the difference is overtime. However, the overtime is part of the required hours for a firefighter’s tour of duty. My question is, why is our retirement not based on the higher pay? Seeing that this is what we are really paid and not the  so-called base pay of 73,906. If a federal employee other than a firefighter made the same amount higher rate per year, their High Three would be based on that rate, not $10,000 less. Why are  firefighters’ retirements not based on the pay they receive for their tour of duty. I believe we are being shortchanged in retirement. We are required to work more hours than most federal employees, and our pay reflects that. However, our retirement does not. Why?

A: All federal annuities are computed using an employee’s basic pay, the amount from which retirement deductions are taken. For most employees, basic pay is the figure found on the pay table for their grade, step, and geographic area. In a few cases, when provided for by law, certain other kinds of compensation are included in basic pay, and, when they are, retirement deductions are taken from that pay. With the exception of administratively uncontrollable overtime (AUO) paid to certain law enforcement officers, overtime isn’t included in basic pay.


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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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