Alpár Kató | Feb 20, 2019 | 1
Dangerous: Hungary out of fire-fighters?
Starting a career as a fire-fighter is no longer attractive in Hungary – according to index.hu. Since salaries are low and the work is both physically and mentally wearing, many give up the job. Thus, average fire-fighters are now 40 years old in Hungary, which can cause some serious problems. In the past there used to be a waiting list for the entrants, now they have to recruit them. However, Hungarian National Organization For Rescue Services (HUNOR) states, based on official data, such problems do not exist.
Career in the past, almost no applicants at present
Nobody showed up on a recruitment organized by the local rescue services in Érd. According to index.hu local branch of HUNOR tried to recruit in two other cities of Pest County before. However, everybody went home after they learned that their salary will be only 40,000 forints (EUR 130) during the training. Officers in Érd say that one has to go even deeper in order to get to the root of the problem.
“The problem is huge.
I have never seen before that youth was tried to be recruited with the help of advertisements with the age limit of 55. This is very problematic”
– said one of the sources who have been working as a fire-fighter for decades. In addition, he cleared that formerly there were long waiting lists for the entrants and entrants had to wait for months or even years until they could start working. Furthermore, everybody could retire at the age of 50. Whereas today even a 55 year old can start working any time. Finally, it used to be unimaginable that somebody left the job before retirement. Today the fluctuation is big and while many leave almost no one comes. Even those who, after all, start to work as a fire-fighter leave soon if they get a better offer. And unfortunately, getting a better offer is not too difficult.
Low wages make fire-fighters go
“A young colleague of ours has just left us and started to work for a governmental company. His present net is more than his former gross!” – said a fire-fighter. Another one added: “one of our colleagues learned to become a TV mechanic. First, he started to work as a repair man only part-time, but when he received his first salary he left us and he works now as a full time mechanic”. And there are more of such stories.
For today it became difficult or sometimes impossible to go on holiday for a fire-fighter in Hungary. “In 2012, before the nationalization, the human resource manager talked about 32 as an average age in our branch. Now it is above 40.” – said one of the fire-fighters. Another fire-fighter added: “I heard from a HUNOR-manager that they have to deal even with the once rejected applicants. Thus,
I can clearly state that this endangers the whole service.”
All in all, why is the career of a fire-fighter no longer attractive in Hungary? Because
- the salary is 150-160.000 forints net (EUR 490-520)
- no one can retire at the age of 50.
- fire-fighters can no longer use the local swimming pool or fitness centre for free as before.
- there are no longer cheap summer camps for the kids of the fire-fighters.
- in practice, the annual reward is given for loyalty and not because of professional knowledge or achievement. Thus, it is called “face-money” among the fire-fighters.
- the subvention for starting a family has become symbolic.
- the system is centralized and bureaucratized.
HUNOR sees no problem
According to Lánglovagok,
the number of fire-fighters decreased from 3,287 to 2,501 between 2011 and 2015.
Even the trade unions registered the problem: according to their data the number of fire-engines dimished by 64 between 2013 and 2016.
However, HUNOR has not registered any problems. According to their answer given to index.hu the number of fire-fighters is increasing. While in 2010 that was only 9,364 in January 1, 2017 it has reached 10,324. HUNOR explained that the average age is on the increase, but this is only because the low fluctuation and the steadily rising salaries. Based on their data, average age is now altogether 39.5, while in the case of intervening fire-fighters it is 38.2. Furthermore, the new education system started in September 2012 and the number of the applicants times 4 or 5 the number of free places. Finally, the fluctuation of the rescue services is below 3% per year.