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Free Minds & Free Markets

Firefighter Earned $300K in Overtime by Working More Hours Than Actually Exist

Donn Thompson was paid for more than 9,200 hours of work last year. But there are only 8,760 hours in a year.

Tim Berger / Glendale News/Los Angeles Times / Polaris/NewscomTim Berger / Glendale News/Los Angeles Times / Polaris/NewscomLos Angeles firefighter Donn Thompson had a busy year in 2017. If his pay stubs are to be believed, he literally never stopped working.

Data obtained by Transparent California, a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, show that Thompson pulled down $300,000 in overtime pay during 2017, on top of his $92,000 salary. Over the past four years, Thompson has earned more than $1 million in overtime, according to Transparent California's database. Thompson's ability to work so many hours "boggles the mind," says Robert Fellner, director of research at the institute.

To earn that much in overtime pay, Thompson would have had to work more hours than actually exist in a single year. Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on.

Here's how the math breaks down. Thompson, like all firefighters in Los Angeles, works 2,912 hours every year. With a base salary of $92,000, that comes to an hourly rate of $31.60. That means Thompson would earn overtime pay at a rate of $47.40 per hour—that's one and a half times the base rate. But earning $302,000 at a rate of $47.40 per hour would require working more than 6,370 hours. Add that to the 2,912 hours he worked as a salaried employee, and you get more than 9,280 hours worked, despite the fact that there are only 8,760 hours in a year.

Thompson is probably taking advantage of contract provisions that boost overtime pay above the typical rate, says Fellner, though it's unclear for now how that affects the calculations. (Transparent California is awaiting more payroll data from the fire department.)

Cashing in on the Los Angeles Fire Department's generous overtime rules is nothing new for Thompson, who might very well be the highest paid firefighter in American history. A 1996 Los Angeles Times story highlighted Thompson as a prime example of what the paper called "paycheck generosity" at the department. From 1993 through 1995, the Times found, Thompson made $219,649 in overtime pay. At the time, the department was spending more than $58 million annually on overtime, an amount the paper called "budget-wrenching"; it far surpassed what fire departments in other big cities were paying. The Fire Department of New York, for example, at the time paid about a third as much in overtime.

In 2009, when the Los Angeles Daily News reported that the L.A. fire department's overtime budget had grown by more than 60 percent in a decade, Thompson was once again riding high. He had earned "$173,335 in overtime in addition to his nearly $100,000 base salary while working at Fire Station 19 on Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood," the paper reported, citing 2008 figures.

In 2014, when the San Diego Union-Tribune featured Thompson in a story about runaway overtime costs at California fire departments, he told the paper that he "basically lived at the station" and didn't go home very often.

"The first thing [people] think of is firefighters sitting around at the station, but they're not just handing out free money over here," Thompson said. "I'm working hard."

The Los Angeles Times found quite the opposite when it investigated overtime. In the 1996 article, the Times said most overtime hours are not connected to "fires or other emergencies. Instead, most of it goes for replacing those who are out because of vacations, holidays, injuries, training, illnesses or personal leaves."

While Thompson's payouts are certainly eye-popping, he's hardly the only firefighter in L.A. reaping huge taxpayer-funded earnings. During 2017, the Los Angeles Fire Department had 512 employees who cashed in with at least $100,000 in overtime pay, according to Transparent California. That's a tenfold increase over the 51 employees who got six-figure overtime pay as recently as 2012. Thompson was one of 26 employees to get at least $200,000 in overtime pay last year, when the department reported spending $198 million on overtime pay—a 74 percent increase since 2012.

Perhaps the only silver lining for the taxpayers is the fact that overtime pay can no longer be factored into pension benefits, a consequence of a 2012 pension reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. It is perhaps not surprising that a dramatic increase in overtime payouts began the same year Brown signed that bill.

Photo Credit: Tim Berger / Glendale News/Los Angeles Times / Polaris/Newscom

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  • Libertymike||

    Ah, the glory of socialism.

  • Juice||

    Reminds me of the time I was "discussing" socialism with some 23 yo millennials. When I said the US already has plenty of socialism, we have socialized schools, cops, health care, infrastructure, etc. They said wtf? The cops aren't socialist. They're racist and authoritarian. The schools aren't socialist. The rich districts have good schools while the poor districts have bad schools. Heath care in this country isn't socialist. It's super expensive. Oh man. How do I reech theez keedz?

  • JoeBlow123||

    Hahah. Pretty good.

  • Don't look at me.||

    You can't. It's a lost cause.

  • DavidTaylor||

    One possible way to reach those kids is to make a clearer distinction between "socialism" as an epithet used to vilify progressives -- something that "the cops aren't socialist" seems to buy into -- and "socialism" as a simple matter of government control. We have a socialized military, and a damn good thing we do, but it's as far from progressive as you can get and still be on this planet. We have socialized health care for veterans, but I wonder if it's entirely accurate to say that health care in general is socialized in the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid are reimbursement programs -- as a physician I am still free to practice without government control, and I could opt to set up a concierge practice that accepts no government payment systems at all.

  • Mock-star||

    "as a physician I am still free to practice without government control"

    I highly highly doubt this.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    You're right, it's BS. Maybe he's Doc Graham ambling away in his practice in Small Town USA, but any doctor practicing in the real world faces tons of government bureaucracy, and it grows by the day. As bad as it was before ACA it is infinitely worse now. How about we all agree on that point at least and move on.

  • Livemike||

    "we have a socialized military, and a damn good thing we do"
    Why? What good has it done to the USA in your lifetime?

    "as a physician I am strill free to practice without government control" that is the least true thing you can say about the economics of healthcare in the USA.

  • You're Kidding||

    You ought to quit and become an L.A. Fire figher. It's much more lucrative.

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    I made $400k sitting on my ass watching Law & Order last year.

  • elmerfudd599||

    In other words you scam people.

  • Livemike||

    The irony of the usual spam on this story.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "The first thing [people] think of is firefighters sitting around at the station, but they're not just handing out free money over here," Thompson said. "I'm working hard."

    So?

  • ||

    Not that you'll see this but....

    'Sitting around the station windexing windows, playing with Spot and flexing muscles to swooning, impressionable ladies while explaining to them matches can be dangerous...'

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on.

    Time-and-a-half and double-time mean something totally different to this guy,

  • Longtobefree||

    Double time and a half on Sundays and holidays, don't forget that little bit of calendar magic.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on.

    Human cloning, obviously. There's must be more than one Donn Thompson fighting fires in L.A.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Is that a pile of taxpayer cash behind the firetruck in that picture?

  • Eidde||

    That makes sense, he's like Santa Claus, doing a year's worth of work in one night.

  • Juice||

    Damn. Whenever I see stories like this and garbage collectors making over $150k a year, I realize I got into the wrong business.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    So, rather like divorce lawyers?

  • ||

    This is very awkward. I'm afraid my firm has behaved in an unethical manner.

    It seems that we, Bendini, Lambert & Locke... the entire firm... has been engaged in a... well, a...conspiracy.

    We've been... overbilling our cllents. In some cases, massive overbilling. I assure you, I had no idea any of this was going on when I joined the firm.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's impossible!

  • Don't look at me.||

    More like Dewey, Chetam, and Howe.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on.

    Maybe he somehow managed to steal the Time Stone from Thanos?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Perhaps the only silver lining for the taxpayers is the fact that overtime pay can no longer be factored into pension benefits, a consequence of a 2012 pension reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. It is perhaps not surprising that a dramatic increase in overtime payouts began the same year Brown signed that bill.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but why would there be an increase in overtime beginning the same year that overtime could NOT be factored into pension benefits? It seems like the incentive for pension spiking was removed. Or are they working large amounts of overtime so that they can suck as much out of the taxpayers now as opposed to waiting until they're close to retirement and then spiking their pensions?

  • SoCal Soccar Mom||

    This article leaves a few things out. The most important of which is that although base salary is used to determine retirement pay, Calpers has defined a whole shit-ton of special pay to be base pay and therefore factored into benefits. The incentive wasn't removed at all.

  • You're Kidding||

    He can still retire at 50@3%. Less time to milk the system. Do it big and do it fast.

    Do the math!

  • Trumptard||

    You got it.

  • BillyG||

    I'm estimating here, but if he claimed 126 hours a week (7x16hr days) then per this site (double-time) that'd produce the requistie amount of overtime. That said, he'd basically have to be doing 16hr days (2 shifts?) every day for the entire year. I'm expecting the union overitme rules increase it to double pay. And now the question becomes why are they allowing that much overtime?

  • You're Kidding||

    They still get to retire at 50@3%. Less time to milk the system. More incentive to do it big....and fast.

    Do the math.

  • retiredfire||

    Your link doesn't work and LA doesn't have 3% at 50.
    Hardly any departments do and the ones that have it regret its inception.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    I'm having a mental block on his base pay:
    According to the article that is $92K/yr, and is an hourly rate of $31.60/hr......but when you divide his 2912-hrs by 52 weeks, that's 56-hrs/wk. Show me a firefighter's sked that has him/her on-duty 56 hours per week for 52 weeks.

  • Chipper Jones||

    Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on.

    "The Fire Department has completed it's investigation and found that Mr. Thompson did indeed find a way to stretch the space-time continuum. He will be immediately reinstated and given back pay."

  • ||

    "The Fire Department has completed it's investigation and found that Mr. Thompson did indeed find a way to stretch the space-time continuum. He will be immediately reinstated and given back pay."

    They should make a movie! It'll have all the humor of Edge Of Tomorrow combined and all the action and excitement of Groundhog Day!

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    How many LA firefighters have been charged with fraud relating to overtime charges?

    Never mind, I know the answer.

  • CDRSchafer||

    We'll need to authorize overtime to investigate the abuse of overtime.

  • Adam330||

    Am I reading it right that the base number of hours (before overtime) for a CA firefighter is 2,912 per year? That's 56 hours a week, with no vacation. That doesn't seem correct to me.

  • EscherEnigma||

    It's probably counting in "on-call" hours, but I also think that (even before overtime) the hours are longer during peak season (summer and what-not).

  • BYODB||

    I suspect if the firefighter sleeps at the station that they get paid for it, or something along those lines. What is staggering is how these employees aren't salaried, but I already know the answer: Unions.

  • Mrpredictable||

    The firefighter work week under FLSA is 52 hours/week. A 3 shift 24 hour/day 7 days/week schedule has every shift working 56 hours a week so there is normally 4 hours a week of built in overtime to a firefighters schedule. This can be paid out or dealt with in a few different ways.

  • You're Kidding||

    In Contra Costa County where I once resided, a fire captain friend used to fill in for his "buddies" when they took vacation time to travel to Europe. They'd basically not report into work for a month or more at a time.

    And, when he back filled for them, he worked on top of his regular shift, staying at the station for days on end, and get paid OT for his time on top of it.

    Quite the racket!

    Sadly, I've yet to meet a fire fighter that could hang onto his/her loot and invest it wisely.

  • MarkLastname||

    They're just being rational: with the pensions they get why would they save a cent?

  • retiredfire||

    Don't believe everything you read on REASON, but it is not unusual for a firefighter to have regularly scheduled hours of 56 per week. They do get vacation, though, which I am sure the author, in his efforts to turn you against this guy, failed to take into consideration.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Fuck off, parasite.
    Don't you have a Dalmatian to wash?

  • retiredfire||

    You've got problems.
    Seek professional help.

  • BillyJ||

    LA fire works 24 hour shifts with three platoons. Basically three 24s ine week and two the next.

  • EscherEnigma||

    An interesting side-note is that the same departments that are paying such obscene amounts of overtime are having problems with recruitment and retention.

    This leads me to one of three conclusions.
    (1) Because of overhead, its' cheaper to pay fewer people obscene overtime (including with future commitments) then it is to hire additional people
    (2) It really is that hard to find folks willing to do the work
    (3) A great many people are deliberately making it a hostile work environment to new employees to drive them out, in order to protect their overtime.

    (3) Sounds unlikely, as it would require a great many people, spread throughout California, to be working towards the same goal. Possible, sure, but hard to pull off without folks catching on, so if this were actually going on I think it would be known.

    Which leaves (1) and (2). Either the overhead finances are so wacked that this is still cheaper then finding another guy willing to do the work and lessen the load on any single worker, or that "willing individual" is very hard to find.

  • BYODB||

    It doesn't have to be just one, and I'm sure a culture where your overtime hours are more pay than you base wages probably perverts the incentives. It doesn't have been to a wide-scale 'conspiracy', just a lot of individuals that know which side of the bread their butter is on along with Union interference.

    In California, I honestly suspect a mix of all 3 of those reasons is the culprit. Honestly #2 doesn't make sense though if you accept that illegal immigrants will do the work others won't. California is the poster child for illegal immigration, so if the other assumptions are correct than people should be beating down the door of the fire dept. for a job and all of them would be Mexican. Maybe that's when the Union gets involved?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Honestly #2 doesn't make sense though if you accept that illegal immigrants will do the work others won't.
    Except that in this case the employer is the state/county/whatever, which means most illegal immigrants are going to be ineligible.

    Maybe that's how we can break this. Make firefighting work open to all regardless of citizenship and work permits.

  • BYODB||

    Are illegal immigrants barred from working for public unions in the State of California? Technically, perhaps, but effectively I'm not so sure. And, regardless, it would appear their children are a bunch of lazy punks too since they're not filling the rolls. (A sarcastic argument, to be sure.)

    California is generally hostile to job creators and business, so ultimately I think you're right on the money except that I still maintain #3 doesn't require a conspiracy just a lot of individual actors doing what the incentives demand of them. I wouldn't be at all shocked to find out that the Union 'teaches' them how to 'take advantage' of certain contract stipulations as well.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Illegal immigrants get legitimate jobs by faking credentials, such as social security cards and what-not. This mostly only works for folks that know better then to check.

    Jobs with retirement benefits attached, such as pensions or 401(k)s generally do check.

    Or to put it simply, you won't collect a pension with another man's social security card.

    Regarding the conspiracy, I point back to the fact that this one guy has made news for his overtime hours across three decades. If the fire departments themselves were pushing back against hiring more people, I think it'd be public knowledge by now.

  • BYODB||

    It was a sarcastic argument for a reason. ^_^

    The fact is that the Police Union in the state of California pulls down about the same (or even more!) and no one bats an eye despite the fact they're doing exactly the same bullshit. I don't think it has anything to do with a job shortage and has everything to do with labor rules both within the contracts the Unions establish and the labor rules of the state itself which are some of the most onerous in the United States (We don't call them 'California rules' for nothing in operations departments).

    There is no way that a job like firefighter, that requires basically zero education, wouldn't have people beating down their doors for three figures no matter what the on-the-job requirements were. That's a basic supply/demand observation, as is the fact that if supply isn't meeting demand the most common reason are barriers to entry rather than 'lazy Americans'.

    That said, in L.A., I suspect that $92,000 isn't as much as it might seem and that appears to be this guys theoretical base wage. (Which despite Eric's calculations in the article should be roughly $44.23 per hour.)

  • Flinch||

    Overtime is a smaller liability than a pension. That, and when the city went all PC to get minority firefighters on payroll to meet quotas... they had problems finding qualified applicants despite blocking white males from even taking the written test for a period of time. A tradition of overtime set in, because quotas were more important than sanity.

  • You're Kidding||

    In my neck of the woods, northern California, they get more than 400 applications for every position that opens up. Finding folks willing to do the work is a myth that management made up.

    The union flaks say that finding "qualified' people is why the 400 applicants don't matter. They aren't "qualified".

    If there was ever a reason to remove collective bargaining from the public sector, fire fighters and cops are it.

  • retiredfire||

    No place has any issues with recruitment and retention. There are more than enough people willing to be hired and hardly any leave.
    The truth is that it is far cheaper to pay overtime than have enough firefighters to fill all the slots, allowing for the number that, on average, will be absent for vacation, sick, disability, etc.
    Training, is extensive and is time when the employee is paid but doing no actual duties. Then there are the benefits, that are calculated based on the number of regular hours worked, that don't have to be paid for overtime hours. Add to that the concept that, when too many scheduled firefighters actually show up for work, they end up paying someone to be extra - something governments, despite what you think, are loathe to do.
    Thus it is less expensive to pay someone to work an overtime shift than to have enough regular employees to cover all absences - and the number of positions that must be filled is mandated.

  • BYODB||

    Wow, so the first few paragraphs prove that Eric doesn't know how wages are calculated or what type of employee the firefighter is. Nice. I guess maybe Reason doesn't pay him, or he just doesn't know how salaries or overtime work.

  • BYODB||

    Wow, so the first few paragraphs prove that Eric doesn't know how wages are calculated or what type of employee the firefighter is. Nice. I guess maybe Reason doesn't pay him, or he just doesn't know how salaries or overtime work.

  • Trollificus||

    Hope you're not expecting overtime for the duplicate post. That's not how it works in Libertaristan.

  • BYODB||

    I am not, but I guess I should elaborate that this guys hourly wage would break down to roughly $44.23 instead of $31.60. Eric was really far off the mark, since base wage calculations virtually always use 2080 as the assumed number of hours per year.

  • Mrpredictable||

    Should be based on 56 hours a week for firefighters.

  • Bubba Jones||

    This guy has figured out how to get double time for being on call. Is he connected in some way? Why aren't his buddies demanding that he share the gravy?

  • Flinch||

    There are unwritten payroll practices in a few industries. Specifically, those regarding 'callouts'. I'm guessing any alarm response outside of regular hours was an automatic 4 hour ticket, regardless of actual time worked. Most traffic accidents are wrapped up within the hour to where firefighters are long gone and tow trucks are in action [as one example]. The question is...where was Osha? Nobody cares if firefighters work a 24 hour day? Somebody
    could get killed.
    But I digress - LA is the fraud capital of the nation. From professionaly staged car accidents, to laughable workmans comp claims. From OJ juries to non-existent investigations of banks milked to keep Maxine Waters in office. From sheriffs employees decorating christmas trees with 1/4 gram baggies, to creating probable cause on the street tellling suspects to simultaneously "Get down! Don't move!" [Can I get a Rodney King, anyone?] And don't forget the social security cards being sold just down the street from any Department of Mexican Voting - just in time. No wonder city council types have six figures worth of security perks gifted to themselves annually - mobsters lead dangerous lives, as enabling an ongoing tsunami of criminal activity will pee in somebody's cheerios at some point.

  • LarryWilson||

    Former east coast suburban firefighter here.

    Easiest job I ever had. I did it for five years while finishing my first undergraduate degree. For sure we sat around the station quite a bit, grilling, using city water to wash our cars, sleeping, watching TV...some of the crew would be humping each other wherever they could find some privacy...

    Sometimes we went on calls and often were involved in situations that sucked balls, but it was barely 'work' most of the time.

    The whole fire industry is largely a scam, but no one wants to challenge it because the industry is worshiped even more than law enforcement. No one dare suggest that reform is needed in the costly and wasteful fire department.

  • Beth M||

    Might be easy on the east coast. You don't have Diablo wind fires there. Every summer California has multiple fires that require tens of thousands of firefighters. CalFire pulls in firefighters from all of the cities then.

  • LarryWilson||

    I live in the west now. Where do you think the west and the west coast import their firefighters from during the fire season?

    You really squandered that post.

  • Spookk||

    I suggest exactly that all the time. Along with closing fire houses, etc. Fact is, and plenty of easily retrieved studies and graphs show, "fires" for houses, etc have plummeted over the decades. We simply don't need these guys in the numbers we used to.

    As for the timber barons; they either clear-cut everything that will burn anyway, or they can hire their own CalFire.

  • retiredfire||

    Tell the 434 firefighters, that died on 9/11/01, that it is a scam.
    Probably more than your entire "suburban" department. Lost in a matter of a few hours.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Look at me over here, crying my crocodile tears for your dead faggot buddies.

  • retiredfire||

    Classy.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Look at me over here, crying my crocodile tears for your dead faggot buddies.

  • dave in LA||

    Those firefighters died because NYFD management was incapable of maintaining a working radio network.

    Ever wonder why all the casualties were from one agency? Port authority, etc, all made it out OK.

  • Buddy Bizarre||

    343

  • Livemike||

    Why is the fact that some of buddies died due to the incompetence of their department an argument against this being a scam? Look the 9/11 "heroes" were only at risk due to incompetence. They probably thought that, like most fires, this wasn't a big physical risk. They are less "heroic" than roofers. But the supposed moral qualities of other firefighters doesn't affect the quality of this one. He's stealing and you know it.

  • BeBraveUSA||

    Perhaps the only silver lining for the taxpayers is the fact that overtime pay can no longer be factored into pension benefits, a consequence of a 2012 pension reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. It is perhaps not surprising that a dramatic increase in overtime payouts began the same year Brown signed that bill.

    Ahh... Actually there is no silver lining for taxpayers. We are all pretty much screwed.

  • Sebastian Cremmington||

    Excellent point, and I was just about to write that I was surprised CA could pass such a common sense regulation!

    My favorite public sector union story is that one that was made into a movie—the lesbian couple won a court case so her spouse could receive her pension. So a younger woman in her 20s got a pension for life from NJ taxpayers when her spouse died right after the litigation...the NJ pension fund is the most underfunded system in the country! Almost as funny as the fact a woman wanting to evade the death tax was the force that legalized same sex marriage!

  • JFree||

    Thompson is probably taking advantage of contract provisions that boost overtime pay above the typical rate

    Golly - you think that's more likely than stretching the space/time continuum?

    I worked on an offshore oil rig one summer. 12 hour shifts everyday (7 day work week) for 2 weeks - followed by 2 weeks off rig. And yeah - there were times I was earning time and a half, double time, triple time, and quad time.

  • Sevo||

    The man brings new meaning to "putting out 110%!",

  • You're Kidding||

    I propose a 100% tax on overtime pay for all government employees.

    That ought to do it!

  • Beth M||

    California law mandates an overtime rate of double time for more than 12 hours in a day.

  • nicmart||

    Firefighters generally don't fight fighters. They now do a lot of emergency runs that I suspect are uneconomic. I wonder if anyone has done a study about the economics of firefighters as paramedics and such.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    In some jurisdictions in Canada they are required to attend emergency calls and often get there ahead of (and ultimately in the way of) EMTs. EMTs hate them b/c they're glory boys.

  • D-Pizzle||

    Where I live, we have a serious over-responding problem. For example, at the University where I work, last year we had a soccer player break a leg during the game. Both the ambulance and an engine unit showed up for the call. Why? Maybe retiredfire can explain this to us.

  • IceTrey||

    Even the firefighters are scum.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    In other news... LA Firefighters are caught setting fires so they can be called out on more overtime to put them out...

  • ||

    Another Fire-sleeper milking the system. At straight time they ain't worth a dime.

  • TSTB||

    When you're hot...you're hot.

  • BillBrennan||

    In Novato California firefighter's compensation averages out to $227,000 yearly. The average retirement pay for a full term pension, 30 years, is $128,000 plus benefits. They get 13 sick days, 13 paid holidays, 3 personal days and after a short time 4 weeks of vacation. Firefighters in Novato actually run an ambulance: service 85% of their activity, responding to emergencies(car wrecks, etc) 12% and actually dealing with fire 3%.
    I saw a guy at the gym wearing a shirt that said NOVATO'S BRAVEST.
    I'm told they get 600 applicants for every job opening.
    At least the LA guy probably puts out fire.

  • retiredfire||

    That "compensation" includes medical insurance premiums, pension contributions, worker's compensation, etc. just as many jobs have.
    The pension comes from a fund that gets no taxpayer money for that worker - assuming the city has made all the required contributions - once the employee has retired.
    Novato is a "bedroom" community with no real industry, thus structure fires are uncommon, but the other emergencies are just as important of being responded to and well trained people are essential in such situations.
    As for being brave; remember, when you see smoke and move away from it, they are the ones going in the opposite direction.
    Within the last few years, a Novato firefighter died on the lines of a wildfire.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    One whole Dalmation-washing faggot? Wow. Dangerous job.

  • retiredfire||

    A lot more dangerous than mommy's basement.

  • Livemike||

    I don't know, your mommy's basement might have lots of bondage gear that could result in stranglation if used incorrectly.

  • BillBrennan||

    "The pension comes from a fund that gets no taxpayer money for that worker - assuming the city has made all the required contributions - once the employee has retired."

    That fund is taxpayer funded.

    Suburban firefighters have nowhere near the level of danger faced by those working in urban environments like SF, Oakland and NYC.
    Worth pointing out is that the chief and assistant chief each had over $400,000 in total compensation in 2017.

  • D-Pizzle||

    "That fund is taxpayer funded."

    [R]etiredfire is totally in the tank for the public employee unions. What a shocker!

  • MarkLastname||

    How dare you challenge these heroes! They put their lives on the line for us every day! Do you want children to burn alive?! These saints deserve at least 10 million a year easily!

  • Star1988||

    "Here's how the math breaks down. Thompson, like all firefighters in Los Angeles, works 2,912 hours every year..."

    That's 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. Seems high.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Firefighters do work/are on call for a hefty amount of time.

  • JudoPete||

    Firefighters typically work 24 hours on and 48 hours off with a Kelly day, I.e., whenever a shift falls on a Monday for example they would automatically be off duty if Monday is their Kelly day. This would result in most firefighters having a 2 or 3 shift week. Because part of the shift they're allowed to bunk, a 24 hour shift isn't necessarily 24 hours of work, but they have to be available to work. It seems like an outdated work schedule that would be far more effective with traditional 8 or 12 hour shifts, but firefighters unions have resisted change because many firefighters have side jobs and moonlight during their 48 hour time off.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    "Donn" seems also to have appropriated an extra n for his name.

  • swampwiz||

    Yes, going down the pole requires a lot of practice ...

  • jdgalt1||

    This article's calculation of overtime pay doesn't take into account the requirement to pay double time for work after 12 hours in a day, or after 8 hours on the 7th day worked in a week. You might want to read up on California's overtime laws here. https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Overtime.htm

  • Cyto||

    Yeah, this can only happen when you are managing other people's money. There is no way a manager working for a private company would be allowed to manage his hours that way. If you have that much overtime, you are not properly staffed.

    And the notion that they pay time and a half overtime when someone is out on paid leave (effectively paying 2.5x for the same work) is just silly. With as many employees as that department has, they should be able to handle vacation and sick leave without resorting to overtime for other workers.

    Allowing 300k in overtime is just plain incompetent. No way the people in charge of that department should be allowed to keep their jobs.

  • Radioactive||

    To earn that much in overtime pay, Thompson would have had to work more hours than actually exist in a single year. Either the highly paid firefighter found a way to stretch the space-time continuum or something fishy is going on....I presume you've heard of the concept of "double time" or even double time and 1/2 for holidays? just checking...

  • JScott||

    What bothers me the most about this article is that Eric just puts the man's private information out there without any facts or supporting information. You're basically accusing the guy of falsifying timesheets based on your uneducated "calculations" with no knowledge of the employment contract.

    Without his pay stubs (which you have no right to see) you have no idea how or why he was paid. Then you want to blame the union for a contract that was jointly negotiated.

    Every 24/7 operation I have ever been involved with has relied on OT to cover schedule vacancies. The staffing problem is not so much in finding candidates qualified to perform the job, but in finding candidates willing and able to deal with the challenges of rotating shiftwork. The folks that find ways to make the schedule work for them are the ones who succeed in these businesses.

  • John Rohan||

    Since this information is publicly available, the article isn't putting this man's private information out there.

  • El Kabong||

    "The folks that find ways to make the schedule work for them are the ones who succeed in these businesses."

    Let no man say that firefighting is not a good "business". I would imagine quite a few drug dealers spend years on the waiting list.

    Nor is it just firefighters (remember the bored grins on the faces of those NorCal cops who stood aside doing nothing while leftist orcs assaulted the American citizens trying to attend the Trump campaign rally two years ago - many running for their lives? Some enterprising soul managed to look up their payment records only to be assaulted with the usual litany of zeroes - I believe they averaged out at 300K per annum.)

    Nor is it solely Californians (from court officers to cops and even schoolteachers, the Empire State boasts a money-for-nothing roll call second to none - as do most of the proudly-progressive blue blotches on the map.)

    After a century of being force-fed fairy tales of Overworked and Underpaid Teachers & Cops, it's hard to wean oneself off the civic crack pipe. Look on the bright side, though - too many vested interests on both sides of the political aisle to ever hope for any kind of meaningful reform. Hey, whoever seizes power in the America that's coming is going to need a dependable Praetorian guard....so if there's to be any overhauling of unions, it'll be the non-scaries on the public tit - teachers, communications workers, "service" employees and such - who'll be fed to the sharks first.

  • Livemike||

    Coincidentally I'm currently reading "The Firm" and a recurring sentence is "Nobody can work more than 100 hours a week for more than 6 months".

  • BobRWH||

    As a long-time contributor, and I'll continue, I have to comment here.
    I always appreciate Reason's complete and accurate coverage of topics. I don't doubt your math, but the City does pay 1½x for Scheduled Overtime (vacations, sick, etc.), and, if I remember correctly, 2x for Emergency Overtime (held over at fires, filling for others on big fires).
    But as a retired member of this same Fire Department, I have to point out that the City was fully in favor of paid overtime, which started clear back in the late 1960s. I was involved in the implementation.
    Using overtime, the City saved a fortune on avoiding hiring new firefighters. They used overtime to allow staffing to run low, filling vacancies with this overtime.
    Of course the firefighters loved it too, but there was always a cost.
    When I was there, the people who worked a lot of OT had some things in common, one of which was most were single or divorced.
    As the City moved toward a more regional approach to fire protection, they more often committed City (City taxpayer-financed) forces to incidents outside the City. Early examples included Mutual Aid to nearby cities; a more recent one was teams sent to assist after hurricane Katrina.
    To maintain a modicum of a level of protection at home, of course the City hired overtime people (often financed by FEMA).
    As with most politically sensitive topics, there's more to this one than is readily apparent at first glance.

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