Report investigates high SFFD overtime costs

San Francisco fire fighters.
April 24, 2013 12:28:42 PM PDT
A new report puts the staffing levels of the San Francisco Fire Department under the microscope; some firefighters are racking up more than a $100,000 in overtime alone.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, SFFD Lt. Gary Altenberg was the top overtime earner; he made $221,000 in overtime, raising his paycheck to $363,000 last year. Frederick Binkley, a paramedic/firefighter picked up $191,000 in overtime to bring his pay for last year to $337,204.

The fire department says these numbers aren't as bad as they seem.

"It's somewhat the norm these days. But it's not a shock factor because, it's not, it's money that is budgeted," said Lt. Mindy Talmadge of the SFFD.

The department has already blown through its overtime budget and will be asking the board of supervisors for $4 million more.

The fire union president told the Chronicle that the overtime costs are because the department has 400 empty positions to fill. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is promising to fill those positions.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said that the high amount of overtime is not safe for firefighters' mental or physical health.

Some tax payers see beyond the six-figure overtime pay.

"If it's saving life and providing the community, I'm all up for it," said San Francisco business owner Carlos Alejandro Ban.

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