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Poll call: Should firefighters be able to charge personal EVs at the station – for free?

A recent poll with over 900 responses reveals strong opinions on the concept of free electric vehicle charging at the fire station


AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

As technology continues to advance, the number of electric vehicles on the road will continue to grow. This new mode of transportation raises a number of questions, including when and where drivers will be able to plug in and charge.

A recent FireRescue1 poll asked readers if fire department members should be allowed to charge their vehicles at the station during a shift. A majority (53%) of the more than 900 votes said firefighters should be allowed to charge their vehicles for free – a job perk.

“Most workplaces are now installing chargers for their employees,” one FireRescue1 member wrote on Facebook. “It would also be advantageous to help the firefighters keep their electric cars fully charged so that they are always available for callbacks.”

FireRescue1 Executive Editor Chief Marc Bashoor has a different take on the access to charging stations: “If you believe firefighters should be able to plug-in for free, you are really talking about the use of a public utility for private gain. I believe this is different than the washing a vehicle debate, in that the firefighter isn’t gaining anything tangible from the clean car. From the plug, they are earning more drive time on their vehicle.”

Bashoor would support a more regulated method for charging, though: “Think about parking meters where you insert your credit card for a specific amount of time. I’d love to see a program established that allows firefighters to plug in at work, as long as there’s a mechanism to measure and pay for the electricity used/obtained.”


What firefighters are saying

What are your thoughts on this issue? Join the conversation and weigh in.

Paid guys, sure why not they charge phones, cook, etc. that is their home 1/3 to 1/4 of their lives... depending on schedule. Vollies, sure, why not, they drive their vehicles every time a call happens. If you can’t pay them a liveable wage why not give them the 5 dollars worth of electricity? Ultimately who cares? The cost to charge an EV is fractional compared to the cost created by all the other power consumption at a station.” — Matthew G.

“We don’t gas our cars up at the firehouse.” — Robert A.

“If you let diesel drivers plus in their block heaters, then EV drivers can plug theirs in.” — Tim C.

“It’s an inexpensive perk.” — Jerry B.

“You don’t currently pay them gas money, why would they expect free electricity to charge their vehicle? Currently, ‘free charging stations’ (nothing is free) are simply promotional and paid for by grants … as the country increases its use, this will become a paid service … just like, and similarly priced like gas.” — Carl B.

“I believe it should be up to each individual department. In my opinion why not? They pay the same taxes to live in that community as the rest of the community does.” — Andrew R.

“Is it any different than them using the electricity inside the station for their personal electronic devices?” — Mike C.

“First of all, what firefighter salary can pay for an electric car?” — Shane B.

“I hope everyone’s moral and ethical standards apply to washing vehicles at the fire station, or turning the AC to 68 degrees when they run their house at 71 degrees because they don’t want to pay a large electric bill. Don’t forget running a mile or two out of the way for an errand on the apparatus…that’s stealing fuel, correct? Or how about doing personal business while on duty with your personal laptop plugged into the wall , theft?” — Doug C.

“It’s a complex issue. Firefighters for a long time have charged cell phones, laptops, ran personal televisions, plugged in a buffer or a pressure washer to wash a personal vehicle. Not in my area, but as others have pointed out, in some places firefighters can and have plugged in their POV block heater. So now one asks to charge his EV, it’s not an easy “no.” If it is an L1 charger that draws 13-15 amps, it would be about the same as a typical appliance. If they hook up to the extractor outlet and draw 50amps, it would be noticeable.” — Mike Y.


Read next:

Your top electric vehicles questions, answered

As the automotive industry revs its engines for EVs, questions remain for some fire service leaders

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.