Wyoming firefighters work long hours in dangerous conditions and some of them barely earn a living wage. The average professional firefighter in the Cowboy State makes $43,430 a year, according to a new study.

"That sounds like a very accurate number," said Cheyenne Firefighters Public Relations Chairman Derek Pollnow. "We have the biggest department in the state, running 9,000 calls a year out of five stations, and our firefighters start around that salary."

Pollnow noted the disparity in wages between full-time firefighters and part-time or seasonal employees, who can earn as little as $13 an hour. Many of the rural counties also have volunteer agencies or employ a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters.

"Fighting fires is expensive," Pollnow said. "Nobody wants to pay for firefighters until they need them."

Wyoming wages ranked below the national average in the study, but they weren't the worst. The median annual income for firefighters in Lousiana is $28,980. New Jersey firefighters have the highest average salary, earning $75,420 per year.

Around the region, firefighters in Wyoming make more than their counterparts in Idaho and Utah, who earn an average income of $37,130 and $32,420, respectively. Colorado firefighters have the highest salary in the surrounding states, earning an average of $54,680 annually.