Three Los Angeles City Fire Department firefighters topped a statewide list of the highest public employee overtime earners for the second year in a row.
Each earned more than $300,000 in overtime alone in 2016, according to public payroll records compiled by the non-partisan research group TransparentCalifornia.com.
The group's research director Robert Fellner said the same three earned more overtime than any other government employee in the state in 2015, and he said it's in part because of a unique perk for L.A. City firefighters that allows them to by paid overtime by trading away days-off in order to stack multiple 24-hour work shifts on consecutive days.
"To me, it's indefensible," Fellner said. "I just cannot fathom a justification."
The City and Fire Department have said the problem stems from mandatory minimum staffing – that requires most shifts to be filled by whatever means necessary, including overtime, and a failure by the City to hire enough new firefighters over the last ten years.