1. #1
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    Default He makes the big bucks!$$$$$

    Firefighter paid $104,000 after overtime

    By Benjamin Price, News-Leader



    A Nassau County fire captain has earned more than $104,000 since last Oct. 1 once overtime and reimbursed sick leave were factored into his pay.

    A fire lieutenant, whose base salary is about $50,000, brought home more than $90,000 during the past year for the same reasons.

    Another firefighter, whose salary is $35,490, has made more than $55,000 in the fiscal year that doesn't end until Sept. 30.

    Due to an unprecedented year of extended medical or family leave, and three vacant positions left unfilled for almost a year, Nassau County Fire-Rescue paid more than $700,000 in overtime the past fiscal year.

    As a result, some firefighters received gross pay increases of more than 30 percent.


    "If you were willing to work, the overtime was there for you," county Fire Chief Chuck Cooper said Friday.

    Overtime applies to all firefighters, engineers, lieutenants, captains and fire inspectors. Exempt are the fire chief and his two deputy chiefs, all salaried workers.

    By comparison, Cooper's annual salary is about $61,000 and he's not eligible for overtime.

    Because of last year's manpower shortage, the county's frontline firefighters, who normally work 120 24-hour shifts a year, may have worked closer to 200.

    That meant by the end of the year, some lieutenants brought home $30,000 more than the chief's salary.



    The way Capt. Mark Lipinski sees it, the county's personnel shortage meant somebody had to do it. The alternative was to shut down fire trucks and that, he said, was unacceptable.

    "You have to have bodies there to serve the people in the community," he said. "We only had three captains. If someone was off, my schedule allowed me to work it."

    Lipinski, the fire union president, had earned more than $104,000 from Oct. 1, 2004, through Sept. 2.

    Prior to May, the Nassau County Commission left three vacant firefighter positions unfilled for more than a year in an effort to cut back on expenses.

    But that meant if one or two firefighters were on leave, inevitably someone was going to work overtime and by law must be paid time-and-a-half.

    This was exacerbated by an "unprecedented" amount of leave this past year. According to Nassau County Fire-Rescue, 17 percent of the workforce was out at some point during the fiscal year. Cooper said that number is usually less than 3 percent.

    The county was so short on manpower some weeks, Cooper said, that he and a deputy chief had to cover trucks while they looked for people to work. The shortage caused the county to occasionally re-organize department responsibilities. Sometimes captains were forced to drive tankers while they received captain's pay, while the engineers who normally drive the trucks worked as firefighters and received overtime pay.

    The chief and deputy chiefs also worked six or seven days a week to cover for captains or work as frontline firefighters, he said, but they were ineligible for overtime.

    After the county commission's refused to fill the three vacant positions in October 2004, Cooper said he repeatedly requested the positions be filled due to the overtime situation.

    That request was not granted until May. The county commission approved an emergency purchase to fill the positions when told the overtime budget was almost wiped out with five months left in the budget year. Eventually, the county had to put an additional $200,000 into fire-rescue's overtime budget this year to cover the difference.



    Cooper said hiring the three firefighters in May helped the problem but didn't eliminate it.

    Last Friday, five of 29 firefighters on shift were working overtime.

    "You're always going to have overtime," Cooper said. "If one person calls in sick, that position has to be filled. Some employees have no desire to work overtime, some will work all the time."

    To alleviate the problem, the county has added six firefighter positions to the upcoming budget.

    That is expected to be approved Sept. 26 and will enable the county to keep firefighters in reserve to function as "floaters" and cover for employees who are out.

    Cooper originally requested about $1 million in overtime expenses to be placed in this year's budget. But with six added personnel, he and County Administrator Mike Mahaney no longer think that's necessary and the overtime request was cut in half.

    "The way you control that (overtime) is to hire floaters to fill in some of those gaps. It's better to pay straight time than time-and-a-half," Mahaney said.

    bprice@fbnewsleader.com

    Story created Sep 21, 2005 - 16:10:45 PDT.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    Default Must be nice

    Must be nice. Wonder if FF salraies will really come along in the future.

  3. #3
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    Default

    As a result, some firefighters received gross pay increases of more than 30 percent.
    RANT ON

    Hello, liberal media, wake up! They didn't "receive a gross pay increase", they worked their *****es off for that money.....geez, makes it sound like they just got a bunch of extra pay for nothing....that's a lot of hours put in away from family, friends, and personal life....

    Why does someone always have to whine about how much somebody got paid last year when they worked their butt off for it? Sounds like some whiny liberal do-gooder got ahold of this and is jealous that he has a white-collar straight salary job and can't get paid overtime...Guess what, bet he's home at 5:15 every evening and every weekend and holiday. How disrespectful.

    Besides, I don't find that those numbers are that unrealistic.

    Another firefighter, whose salary is $35,490, has made more than $55,000 in the fiscal year that doesn't end until Sept. 30.
    That's the American Way, folks....those who are willing to work extra deserve to be paid extra. I'm not a big fan of the IAFF or unions in general for that matter, but come on, fair's fair.....the shifts still need to be covered, and if they're not going to hire the appropriate number of people then you cover it with overtime. Besides, any savvy business manager will tell you that once you factor in benefits and other costs of employment, it's cheaper to pay overtime than to hire additional personnel, up to a certain point.

    This is Nassau County's problem...don't vilify the firefighters for taking advantage of it....

    RANT OFF
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  4. #4
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    Thumbs down

    If they needed a 30% raise, I would say their pay was GROSS to start with.

    Doesnt surprise me. We have been reading about our 21% over the last three years we got. Of course, were still the lowest paid in the county. Funny how the paper never mentions that
    Last edited by Dave1983; 10-04-2005 at 04:27 PM.
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