By BRETT ROWLAND
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Eighty-six Los Angeles Fire Department employees made more than $400,000 in 2022, including a fire captain who made $712,933 last year.
That fire captain was the highest-paid employee in the city. The captain had a base pay of $169,764 and was paid $502,681 for overtime, along with $19,637 in other pay and personnel benefits of $20,851. In 2021, the highest-paid employee also was a fire captain. That captain made $434,394 in overtime in 2021, for a total pay of $598,532.
The fire department spent $817.4 million on payroll in 2022, a 2.4% increase from $798.2 million the year before. Overtime costs in 2022 decreased by 8% to $225 million from $244.9 million the year before.
Last month, the Board of Fire Commissioners requested $904 million for the department’s 2023-24 budget. That includes $838 million for its operating budget, an increase of 7%, or $55 million, according to the final proposal. The budget includes a 4.5% pay increase for sworn firefighters. The fire union agreed to delay that pay hike until 2023 in exchange for a promise from the city to avoid layoffs. That agreement was reached in 2021, according to media reports and union announcements.
Overall, 86 members of the city’s fire department were paid more than $400,000 in 2022, according to the city’s Payroll Explorer. That’s the same number as in 2021.
The average mean wage for a surgeon in California in 2021 was $351,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average pay for a fire chief in Los Angeles in 2022 was $320,336.44, according to Payroll Explorer.
The second-largest city in the U.S. employed 3,649 firefighters in 2022.
The fire department did not return an email seeking comment on its pay practices and overtime use.