Allegations of Overtime Abuse in DC Fire and EMS Department - Fox 2 News Headlines

Allegations of Overtime Abuse in DC Fire and EMS Department


There are new allegations of overtime abuse in the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. It comes at a time when the city is strapped for cash.

One firefighter has earned more than $300,000 with the overtime he earned, more than three times his base salary.

Last year, 25 firefighters racked up more than a million dollars in overtime.

FOX 5 has found one person, a commanding officer, who has earned overtime nearly every pay period in the last two years. The firefighter has earned nearly $100,000 in overtime each year.

At times, Lt. Richard Lehan has racked up 90 hours of overtime when others complain they are getting very little. Documents show at least two other firefighters earned $100,000 in overtime last year.

These documents obtained by FOX 5 show that since 2008, Lehan stands out as one of the top overtime earners in the department.

According to payroll records, Lehan has worked nearly 2,500 hours in overtime since 2009. It shows month after month, Lehan is averaging 45 hours of overtime per pay period. Department policy dictates that there should be no more than 36 hours overtime per pay period.

D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson wants accountability and says it is overtime abuse at its worst.

"I'm going take that information to the Chief Financial Officer and ask why those paychecks are being processed,” said Mendelson. “Some attention has to be given to the supervisors who permitted the work to take place and the supervisors who authorized the paycheck to be written. Frankly, if it's egregious enough, some heads have to roll.”

Lehan wouldn't comment on camera Monday about his overtime, but says he works the hours given to him to support his five children and has done nothing wrong.

Payroll records show he earned $153,000 in overtime over the last two years. If you add that to his $89,000 a year firefighter salary, his take-home pay for the last two years has been at least $331,000.

Mendelson says this has to stop.

"This overtime has been out of control. Management has not been managing the overtime issue, so the overtime has been millions of dollars over the budget. So we're doing it ourselves through the law. It's a crude way of doing it," said Mendelson.

Because the fire department policy wasn't working, the D.C. Council imposed a new law last year. It says no firefighter or officer can earn more than $20,000 in overtime.

However, documents show Lehan's overtime continues to exceed that amount even under the new law.

In October, November and December, Lehan has again met or exceeded the overtime limits, working 153 overtime hours in the last three months of 2010, earning him nearly $10,000.

On Monday night, the D.C Fire and EMS Department could not say which supervisor or assistant chief approved all the overtime or why it was approved, but issued a statement saying the department has made changes and now uses overtime management software called Telestaff.

"To reduce overtime, Telestaff assists the department to better plan, distribute and manage OT through improved work scheduling controls on a shift-by-shift basis," said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer in a written statement.

The only problem according to sources is that the person in charge of the computerized Telestaff scheduling of overtime is Richard Lehan and his firefighter brother, Eddie Lehan.

A fire department spokesman says of late that Lehan appears to be within the guidelines set forth by the D.C. Council.

LINK: DC Fire and EMS Department Top 25 Overtime Earners (2008-2010)

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