The Glendale Fire Department Overtime has Escalated since it Commandeered the EMS operation
It is apparent that the Glendale Fire Department overtime is out of control and needs to be address by the City Council. Although employee pay raises have been frozen since 2009, for FY 2012, the employees who had the greatest pay increase without a promotion made $33,303 more in 2012 than the year prior. The difference in pay comes from a variety of factors, including overtime and guaranteed annual “step increases (requires employee to get satisfactory evaluations — every year until the highest step is reached.” It takes almost nine years for a rank-and-file employee to get to that final step), and salary perks. Promotions also played a role for those that took on higher-ranking jobs. (1)
Most of the top 45 earners last year were fire and police officials who benefited from overtime as they filled in for sick workers or aided other agencies that needed help. Firefighters are set to get a 2.5% across-the-board wage increase next fiscal year 2014. (1)
In the 2011-2016 GFD Strategic Plan, the GFD reassessed its priorities through this strategic planning process. Its goals focused on improving its organization through the implementation of enhanced training programs, increasing efficiency through the use of technology, promoting greater inter-departmental collaboration. The report said that the GFD is working to achieve and/or maintain the highest level of professionalism and efficiency on behalf of the community. (2)
In an effort to work toward self-improvement, the GFD contracted with a private vendor to facilitate a method to document the department’s path into the future. The process challenged the membership of the GFD to critically examine paradigms, values, philosophies, beliefs and desires, and challenged individuals to work in the best interest of the “team.” The Department’s strategic plan sets forth a comprehensive vision and mission statement that provides the department with a clear path into the future. i.e.
· The mission of the Glendale Fire Department is to protect life and property by providing the highest level of service to the community. (2)
It’s apparent that the GFD paid an enormous amount of money for this marketing campaign? So, how is effective is the GFD mission plan working for the Glendale City residents and business community for all this critical preparation, self reflective thinking, training, changing the dynamics of the job that is suppose to protect life and property, by providing the highest level of professional service?
Did it reduce their response time on 911 calls after this plan went into effect? i.e. by putting all the paramedics on the fire trucks for Advanced Life Support (ALS), and two technicians on the fire ambulance for (BLT) Basic Life Support, that requires the fire engine to accompany the ambulance to the hospital that puts fire trucks out of commission for several hours until released by the hospital.
Recently, one of the city residents attended a City Council meeting and spoke to the City Council praising the GFD for saving his child’s life. Rafi Najarian, brother to Councilman Ara Najarian, gave a heart sobbing tribute to the GFD giving them credit for saving his child’s life whom he alleges had stopped breathing. If so;
· How many minutes did it take for him to make the telephone call.
· Why was the ambulance dispatched from Montrose, District 29, to District 24 which was further away?
· Why did it take six (6) minutes and 11 seconds for the first responders to arrive and over seven (7) minutes for the ambulance to arrive?
It is apparent that if Rafi Najarian’s child had actually stopped breathing, as he had alleged, his child could have been brain dead or could have died. More importantly, I would think that any responsible parent would have had their child transported by the EMS to the hospital emergency to undergo a battery of tests to ensure the safety and well being of their child. Yet, it is my understanding that Mr. Najarian declined having his child taken to the hospital.
In general, the brain can withstand up to three to six minutes without oxygen before brain damage occurs, but may vary from person to person. If the brain goes without oxygen longer than this, serious and often irreversible damage is likely to take occur. (3)
Was his testimony a payback for the $7,958 the GFFA contributed to Ara Najarian’s 2012 campaign and the countless tens’ of thousands in PAC money spent on printing brochures, mailers, GNP advertisements, and volunteer time to re-elect Najarian? Isn’t it a fact that councilman Najarian never declined a wage increase or cost of living increase to the GFD having been a staunch supporter? He has been a city councilman since 2005. In that time, Overtime for the GFD has escalated as follows:
Glendale Fire Department Overtime Expenditures
Fiscal Years 1999 – 2010
Source: Glendale Fire Department Budget Study Session FY2011-12 – May 25, 2011
Based on the foregoing, the GFD overtime increased from an average of $2.82 million (1999-2004) to 6.15 million (2005-2010). This means that during Ara Najarian’s tenure on the City Council from 2005-2010, he had allowed GFD overtime to increase by an average of 3.33 million dollars annually.
Even in 2012, with the City facing a 15 million dollar deficit, that required layoffs and/or giving a 5% early retirement bonus in lieu of layoffs, the GFD received over $7 million in overtime and additional pay over and above their base salary.
· In the City of Glendale’s Strategic Plan, there was no plan how to reduce “overtime”.
In 2012, The GFD had 307 employees that earned a gross salary of $29.3 million. Out of this number, 166 Fire personnel or (54.1% (166/307) of the GFD workforce made over $100,000, totaling $24.8 million in Gross Salary or 84.6% (24.8/29.3) of the Gross Salary expenditures. Out of the 24.8 million in gross salaries, $17.6 million represented base salary (70.9%) and $7.2 million (29.1%) was overtime & additional payments, i.e. Salary perks. In effect, the $7.2 million in overtime & additional payments went exclusively to the 166 Fire personnel who belong to the exclusive $100,000 club.
We should not forget that the GFD back in 2001 convinced the City Council that it could do a better job handling the EMS. The Council transferred the City’s EMS operation back to the GFD’s authority from a private ambulance service, the City had outsourced to over the past decade, and even though it had an exceptional exemplatory record, that only cost the city about $500,000 annually, with no future pension obligations. Since the GFD took over the EMS service, overtime and additional pay escalated from $1.9 million in 2000 to over $7.2 in 2012.
Of the 200 U.S. cities of 100,000 or more population, 56 currently use private paramedics to treat
and transport. Another 44 use a mixed public-private system, and the remaining 100 use an all government (fire department or “third-service”) or hospital-based system. By switching to a high performance model, most of the 144 cities in the latter two groups could achieve significant cost savings and improved EMS performance. (4)
Low-performance systems generally base their paramedic units at fire stations. The relatively even geographic distribution of fire stations throughout a community makes sense for infrequently occurring events like fires, but it is often poorly matched with the geographical distribution of EMS calls. High-performance systems base their deployment on statistical patterns of the geographic occurrence of EMS calls. (4)
Whether the paramedic provider is a fire department or an ambulance firm, high levels of performance can only be assured if there is a clear specification of the desired objectives (e.g., in terms of response time, productivity, and cost and/or subsidy level) and a means of holding the provider contractually accountable. (4)
Nearly all EMS systems employ two types of responses to medical emergencies: A “first responder” with EMT-level capability who must arrive within four minutes and paramedic-level capability that must arrive within eight minutes. Most high-performance systems have found that the first-responder role can be performed most cost-effectively by EMT-trained firefighters responding in conventional fire apparatus. (4)
It is apparent that the City of Glendale Fire Department not only needs to work on reducing its response time, i.e. for first responders closer to four minutes, but also it needs to restructure its personnel hours so that Overtime is substantially reduced. Based on the foregoing, before the GFD took over the EMS operation, overtime was at $1.9 million. There is no logical justification for overtime to substantially increase to over $7.2 million today, after the GFD took over the EMS. In addition, fire personnel earning substantial base salaries, should be ineligible for time and a half. Any overtime for management or fire personnel should be at straight time in lieu of compensating time. This is just another indication that our city council does not represent the best interest of the City.