Solutions sought for KCFD overtime explosion

Consultants have offered some strategies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -

Overtime at the Kansas City Fire Department has grown at four times the rate of emergency calls.

That number is one of many issues consultants from BKD found in a review of KCFD.

As the 41 Action News Investigators first reported in April, overtime more than tripled from $5 million in 2010 to $16 million in the last budget.

BKD found a handful of KCFD employees were the top overtime earners every year and found 8 of the 10 top earners were paramedics or emergency medical technicians.

After BKD examined the issue, consultants offered some ideas. They include staffing changes on where and what time emergency crews are needed.

Another idea is to require written permission for overtime to evaluate why and where it's needed.

Hiring more civilians for administrative jobs to free up firemen to work on the street was another idea discussed

The study also found there were some minor instances when overtime was paid, but not required.

Chief Paul Berardi told the city council's Finance and Governance Committee Wednesday one issue is a paramedic shortage.

With vacation, downtime, illnesses and injuries, overtime has exploded to handle that relief time.

Berardi says 31 paramedics have been hired in the last three months and nine more trainees will soon be working.

"That just gets us to the normal staffing, what it takes to staff every day. So we're still going to have that relief factor issue," Berardi said.

"There's no silver bullet at least that we were able to find. Not some pain-free way in there to achieve this. But there are some strategies that are in place and are working," said Mike Brink of BKD.

In addition to BKD's review, Chief Berardi has been working with the city's Office of Performance Management to address the overtime issue.

He's scheduled to give his own presentation to the council committee in a couple of weeks.

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