DC Fire Chief Hands Out Bonuses Amid Rising OT Costs

WASHINGTON — As overtime costs rose dramatically at D.C. Fire and EMS, the city’s top fire official approved more than $20,000 in bonuses for some of the leaders in his department, according to financial figures obtained by NBC Washington.

“I gave bonuses to four assistant chiefs and one civilian,” Fire Chief Gregory Dean told NBC Washington. “We’ve been working very hard for the last year-and-a-half or two years, and I felt I needed to acknowledge the hard work that they did.”

These are the first bonuses handed out by Dean since he took over the department in 2015.

The four assistant fire chiefs each received $5,000, and civilian employee received about $1,300.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said she stands behind the bonuses.

“I rely on seasoned managers like Chief Dean to make the right personnel decisions at this department. So if that’s his judgment, I support it,” Bowser told NBC4.

Meanwhile, the firefighters union, D.C. Fire Fighters Association IAFF Local 36, is hoping the rank and file firefighters and paramedics receive recognition too.

“We’re in the midst of contract negotiations. So if they’re giving bonuses for hard work and good work, just remember the members that do the work daily,” union President Dabney Hudson told NBC4.

This all comes as D.C. Fire and EMS overtime costs have skyrocketed in recent years. The department paid out $12 million in overtime in fiscal year 2015, and that figure jumped to $23 million the following year. During fiscal year 2016, at least two paramedics made $114,000 each in overtime pay.

In the first five months of the current fiscal year, overtime costs already stand at more than $9 million.

“We haven’t hired for eight years so that has had an impact on our ability to continue to staff at 349 people on duty every day,” Dean told NBC4.

In late 2015, Bowser announced the District was settling a long-running, overtime-related lawsuit between the firefighters union and the city.

“We have resolved overtime pay issues for the past, present, and future,” Bowser said as she announced that the District would compensate union members time-and-a-half for working more than 42 hours per week. Bowser also announced that union members impacted by the settlement would be awarded back pay dating back to 2001.

The cost of the settlement was estimated at $45 million.

Watch NBC Washington’s report:

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