Last Updated on January 10, 2019 by Luke Feldbrugge
As the never-ending “residency requirements” debate lingers on, firefighters, police and emergency medical services continue to grapple with the issue of whether they should live in the community where they work. Both pro-residency and anti-residency camps have valid points; one of the reasons, perhaps, that it’s such a hot-button issue. People are torn.
What are the arguments on both sides of this important issue? Here’s a deeper look at some of the pros and cons for first responders like you.
PROS of Living Near Your Work – Firefighters, Rescue and EMS
Faster Response Time:
A big part of a fire stations measured success is its response time to calls. If you’re a full-time personnel member you’ll typically work 24-hr shifts and live at the station during your shift, but if the big call comes in, off-duty personnel may get called in to assist. If you’re one of those responders or a volunteer, living in close proximity to the fire station can save precious minutes on emergency response time.
By living in the community you serve, you have a personal vested interest, as a tax payer and public servant, to maintain the well-being of your own community. Not only do you serve the community, but you become an economic contributor to the success of local businesses, organizations and programs.
Bonus Points on Firefighter Test:
Some departments will provide bonus points on the firefighter test to any candidate who lives within a certain radius around the station. Typically, it’s between 5-10% of your overall score, and that can make the difference in getting hired or not. Departments do this not only to keep their recruits close to the station, but also to employ residence of their community.
PROS of Living Near Your Work – Police Officers
Ease of Commute:
A short distance to drive from home to department and back after a tough shift, makes life much easier.
Community Stakeholder, Neighborhood Livability:
Like fire-rescue personnel, by living in the community you serve, you help to maintain the well-being of your own community. For example, with a marked squad parked in the driveway and a visible presence when off-duty, a police officer who lives in the neighborhood may help to create a sense of safety and calm for neighbors. Proving a permanent law enforcement presence in your neighborhood may also improve the community crime rate.
Diversity and Inclusion in the Department:
Currently, in about two-thirds of large U.S. cities, the majority of police officers live outside the city limits. Some say this creates problems of diversity on the force. If recruits are from the communities they serve, the department then reflects the community it serves. Many believe this provides a higher level of professional and personal connectivity and engagement with members of the community, providing you and the force with a more “empathetic” mindset. This helps build a two-way street of trust between community residents and law enforcement members. Alternatively, if the department began using an employee resource group platform, they could help existing officers become more aware of the communities they currently serve.
CONS of Living Near Your Work for All First Responders
There are two primary reasons why first responders choose to live outside of the community they serve:
Separation of Home and Work Life:
Frankly, when you live in the community you serve, you have stake in the game to make your own community better. It has its benefits. But, when community members want their voice heard on community issues, they may come to you, minimizing your “off-hours.” There may come a time when a call sends you to a scene where someone in your community who you know extremely well is badly injured or deceased. Those are tough. Then there are those community residents who harass or attack you and/or your family simply because of your profession. These may be some examples that validate a separation of your home and work life, or they may be some of the main reasons why bringing your home and work life together could lead to improvements in the community you serve.
Cost of Living:
Many firefighters, police, paramedics and EMTs simply cannot afford to buy homes in the communities they serve. They may find themselves working second jobs if forced to live in those communities. There’s also the issue of homebuying expenses if they get a job with a department in a city where they do not currently live, forcing a move.
Wherever You Choose, We’re Ready
Sign up and Homes for Heroes will help you find a home and save you significant money in the process. On average, our heroes save $2,400 when buying a home by working with our real estate, mortgage, title and inspection specialists. Some of that savings comes as money back, so you have some cash in your pocket to fix up or furnish your new home.
It’s our way to say thank you for your service.