Auditor: SDFD should hire, instead of rely on overtime

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department should consider hiring additional personnel instead of relying on overtime to fill staffing vacancies, according to a city auditor’s report released today.

According to the report on overtime practices in the SDFRD, the department has traditionally relied on firefighters taking overtime to fill in for colleagues who are sick, injured, assigned elsewhere or on vacation, because it was cheaper than hiring additional employees.

Because of a pension reform measure passed by voters two years ago, that’s no longer the case, according to the auditor’s report.

One of the three recommendations in the report is to have the department determine the optimal number of new firefighters to hire so overtime would no longer be as necessary.

Overtime has consumed 25 to 30 percent of the fire department’s personnel budget in the last three fiscal years, according to the audit. The report found that in Fiscal Year 2013, individual firefighters were budgeted for 2,920 hours of annual work but averaged around 3,600. Some worked more than 6,500 hours.

The shift in focus to hiring additional firefighters would bring both financial and non-financial benefits to the city, according to the report.

“These benefits include controlling overtime costs; budgeting personnel expenditures more accurately; reducing the potential for firefighter fatigue and improving firefighter safety; reducing liability; having a larger workforce available for deployment in case of an emergency; and, in the future, having a relief factor to reduce mandatory overtime,” the report said.

The SDFRD should also develop a timekeeping system to ensure the reliability of payroll data, and confer with the Human Resources Department and Financial Management on the financial impact of not capping the accrual of annual leave.

The SDFRD has agreed to all three recommendations, according to the auditor.

10 comments

  • steven greenwald

    an absolute rip off of thecity taxpayors going on for years !! instead of 80,000 a year they earn 120,000 or more

    • James

      You have no idea what you are talking about. If firefighters earn 40,000 a year in overtime it is because they are working a ridiculous amount of extra hours, many times against there will, unable to go home at the end of the shift. I agree with the article that the city should hire firefighters due to currently low staffing. In the past it has been cheaper for tax payers to pay overtime rather than hiring additional personnel due to the cost of medical benefits/retirement. That may have changed now due to pension reform.

  • Guest

    MTS is doing the same thing to their bus drivers. They are being forced to work 6-7 days a week and are told they can be terminated if they refuse to work OT.

  • Taxpayer Extortion

    6500 hours ??? A shift is 12 hours, that’s 541 days. At 18 hrs per shift it’s still 361 days…did this guy have no home??? And your pension is directly tied…Good gig if you can get it

    • Jeff

      Actually they usually work 24 hour shifts so that would be at least 270 days. And the pension is based off of base salary, OT is not factored into the pension in any way. Normal workweek is 56 hours and this individual was working about 125 hours a week.

    • jon

      This is the problem with people. They open there mouths before knowing all the facts. If u want to lash out make sure you know what you are talking about. Taxpayer Extortion.

    • The Gunny

      Are you that menatlly challenged or were you the recipient of the villiage 1diot award? SDFD works 24 hours shifts and as far as pensionable OT, well you probably couldn’t even form a fact if it ran you down with a truck, so I’ll help you out. Now pay close attention…yes over here, now anyone hired before 2005 cannot have ANY overtime tied to their pension (base salary only) post 2005 new hires (forced into Carl DeLieo’s scam) are in a 401k, but the language in Prop B has OT tied to the city’s payment. You can thank ol Carl and his merry band of idiots to thank. Now the fault of this I believe lays with you the taxpayer that was misled into the belief that Carl was going to save you from those evil public workers, but was giving you the proverbial reach around.

  • The Gunny

    Well, well, well. Guess Carl DeMaio’s “pension reform” and the hidden costs of Proposition B have finally come home to roost. Overtime was not counted into the pre-2005 new hires, but now is for anyone recently hired and pays into the 401k scam. Remember this when you complete yahoos vote this toolbag for Congress. The fine print will ALWAYS bite you in the southside if you just blindly sign a petition or blindly follow a politician because he’s making the most noise/being devisive. Well done DeLieo, well done.

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