LA fire department spends $22.5M on COVID-19-related overtime

LA fire department spends $22.5M on COVID-19-related overtime
© Associated Press

The Los Angeles Fire Department has spent $22.5 million on COVID-19 related overtime, according to records obtained by The Los Angeles Times

The outlet found there were 400,000 hours of lost work time from March 2020 to Oct. 9 due to the coronavirus. 

Firefighters had to work overtime to backfill shifts to cover those who had to quarantine or contracted the virus. 

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The cost of overtime varied based on the position of the firefighter with some overtime costing less than $33 an hour. However, overtime cost for a battalion chief was more than $108 an hour.

The LAFD said in a statement they kept track of COVID-19 related expenses for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The data comes as the firefighters are fighting against a city mandate that requires employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 18 or risk losing their jobs, according to the local outlet. 

The fire and police departments have launched legal challenges against the mandate, with the fire department saying the city engaged in “bad faith bargaining” and the department can’t afford to lose any more personnel in the staffing shortage.

Currently, 30 percent of the department is not vaccinated with officials warning emergency services could be affected by a mass lay off. 

“Meanwhile, the vaccine mandate's impact on staffing is still undetermined. However, if it creates an unusually high number of vacancies, the Department would consider temporarily closing fire companies. If this occurs, there would be a reduction in staffing costs,” the LAFD said.

The city argues the mandate is for the safety of the department and the city’s residents. 

Police and fire departments around the country have been battling city governments over coronavirus vaccine mandates, with some losing the legal battles in court.

An appeals court recently temporarily blocked the Biden administration's vaccine mandate requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate the vaccine or require unvaccinated employees to undergo frequent testing.

— Updated at 4:14 p.m.