Report: Firefighter overtime surges 65% in California

National News

FILE – In this Aug. 3, 2019, file photo, firefighters battle the Marsh Fire near the town of Brentwood in Contra Costa County, Calif. Following an unprecedented series of wildfires, overtime costs for firefighters in California surged by 65% over the past decade, pushing annual wages to nearly $5 billion. A Los Angeles Times analysis Sunday, Dec. 8 finds with overtime, firefighters are among the best-paid workers in California government. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (AP) — Following an unprecedented series of wildfires, overtime costs for firefighters in California surged by 65% over the past decade — pushing annual wages to nearly $5 billion.

A Los Angeles Times analysis Sunday finds with overtime, firefighters are among the best-paid workers in California government.

In Los Angeles city and county departments, the number of firefighters earning more than $100,000 in overtime alone surged from 41 in 2011 to more than a thousand last year.

Despite the large paychecks, experts argue it’s often cheaper to pay the overtime than to hire more firefighters, once the cost of training and benefits for new employees are taken into account.

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