Injury leave contributes to high NCFPD overtime figure

The North County Fire Protection District’s quarterly overtime report was presented to the NCFPD board Jan. 22 and revealed that in the first six months of fiscal year 2012-13 the district had spent approximately 86 percent of its overtime budget.

“We are ahead of where we should be for six months through the year,” said NCFPD fire chief Bill Metcalf.

As of the first six months of fiscal year 2012-13 the district paid $641,102 in overtime, including $606,463 which is not reimbursable from mutual aid agreements. The district’s entire fiscal year 2011-12 net overtime payments were $836,766 while that figure was $805,800 for fiscal year 2010-11.

Metcalf attributed the high overtime figure to two causes. One was the mutual aid when NCFPD personnel were sent to Northern California to fight wildfires in Shasta and Lassen counties. That overtime is reimbursed and is thus revenue-neutral to the district’s budget. “What you’re seeing on that report is only the cost side of that equation,” Metcalf said.

The district had 2,247 hours of mutual aid during the first quarter of 2012-13 although no such expense occurred during the fiscal year’s second quarter. In 2011-12, the district provided 1,061 hours of mutual aid during the first quarter and 371 hours of mutual aid in the second quarter.

Even with the reimbursement, overtime for the first two quarters was 81 percent of what was expected for the entire year. Metcalf attributes that to a high rate of injury leave. “We are going through a period of time with industrial injuries or work comp injuries,” he said. “We’ve just had a little above normal experience with this through the first six months of the year.”

The district provided 2,704.2 hours of industrial leave during the first two quarters of 2012-13 compared to 856.0 hours of such leave during the first two quarters of 2011-12. “We’ve had a higher than normal expense of work comp injuries in the first six months of the year,” Metcalf said.

The district has a health and safety committee which reviews new claims. “Every one of them is looked at,” Metcalf said.

“We’re constantly reviewing those injuries to look for trends for things we can do to reduce our experience,” Metcalf said. “One of our most common injuries are back injuries from having to lift patients.”

The district has obtained a $350,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant which will be used to purchase power lifts.

“Other than that the overtime report is normal,” Metcalf said.

NCFPD personnel utilized 4,115.5 hours of annual (vacation or other employee-discretionary) leave during the first six months of 2012-13 compared to 3,438.25 hours of such leave during the corresponding 2011-12 period. The 3,108.0 hours of sick leave during the first two quarters of 2012-13 are an increase from the 2011-12 figure of 2,422.67 hours while all other leave is down from 935.5 hours to 384.5 hours.

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