Audit of Premium Pay/Overtime of the Department of Fire and Public Safety
From Maui County Auditor, Report No. 15-02 October 2017 (excerpts)
“How much is a life worth?” That’s a difficult question…with an even more difficult answer. However, if the Department of Fire and Public Safety’s (“MFD”) Premium Pay and overtime costs are not controlled, soon taxpayers will be forced to answer. …
Rank-for-Rank Recall is a condition in the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association – IAFF Local 1463 that took effect on July 1, 2014 (FY 2015). When there is a need to recall a ranked fire fighter due to an absence, Rank‑for‑Rank Recall stipulates that an equally ranked fire fighter be recalled to fill that absence. For example, only a Fire Fighter III can be recalled to cover the absence of a Fire Fighter III. This recall results in time-and-a-half overtime….
On July 1, 2014, MFD implemented their Rank-for-Rank Recall program. That resulted in:
1. a 50 percent increase in Premium Pay/Overtime Pay;
2. MFD having the highest amount of Premium Pay/Overtime Pay per employee in the County;
3. automatic overtime for ranked fire fighters any time an equally ranked fire fighter is absent;
4. reduced opportunities for additional cross-training; and
5. three times more time-and-a-half overtime pay for Fire Fighter III and five times more for Fire Captain while time-and-a-half overtime pay for less costly lower-ranked Fire Fighter I actually declined.
Rank-for-Rank Recall drastically reduced MFD’s ability to temporarily assign qualified lower-ranked fire fighters to fill absences. As a result, MFD now fills absences of ranked fire fighters by calling in an equally ranked fire fighter at more costly time-and-a-half overtime even though qualified lower-ranked fire fighters (who are already on-shift) are available….
Not utilizing on-shift fire fighters to fill absences results in what is essentially automatic overtime any time a ranked fire fighter is absent….
Prior to Rank-for-Rank Recall, absences of ranked fire fighters were filled through Temporary Assignment (“TA”). TA allows a qualified lower-ranked fire fighter to cover the absence of a higher-ranked fire fighter. Not only was utilizing TA to cover absences less costly, it also provides lower-ranked fire fighters an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience working as a higher‑ranked fire fighter. Those opportunities inherently improve MFD’s operational flexibility.
Fire fighter base pay, as it relates to Premium Pay/Overtime, is listed below. Source: Office of the County Auditor data extracted from Department of Finance Payroll Division
Fire Captain Fire Fighter III Fire Fighter II Fire Fighter I
Average Pay $ 91,921.33 $ 78,572.00 $ 72,642.67 $ 67,161.33
Premium Pay $ 25,103.84 $ 19,723.53 $ 16,257.73 $ 12,920.04
TOTAL $117,025.17 $ 98,295.53 $ 88,900.39 $ 80,081.37
In addition to being more costly, Rank-for-Rank Recall also negatively impacts the career ladder of lower-ranked fire fighters by greatly reducing their ability to gain critical on-the-job experience through temporary assignments (covering the shift of an absent higher-ranking fire fighter).…
…Management submitted pages of criticism of our audit findings and recommendations, but did not address how they plan to deal with skyrocketing Premium Pay/Overtime costs. Their commitment to the status quo is disappointing, taxpayers deserve better.
A more detailed review of the Office of the County Auditor’s comments to Management’s response is found on page 19. Our response also addresses a correspondence received on October 20, 2017 from the Fire Chief, essentially claiming the Office of the County Auditor has no right to audit the MFD….
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