News Story

City Self-Imposes Costly Fire Department Minimum-Staff Mandate At Taxpayers’ Expense

How to juice some firefighters’ pay to more than $200,000

A sergeant in the Warren Fire Department had a base salary of $91,897 but was able to use overtime to increase his total pay to $204,993 in 2020 and $254,612 in 2021.

Similar scenarios played out across the state, making firefighters among the highest paid employees in municipal governments.

Collecting overtime from fire departments is lucrative because local government leaders have implemented minimum staffing requirements. When positions are vacant due to injury, illness or attrition, a city meets the minimum staffing mandate by paying staffers who voluntary take on overtime work.

One Ann Arbor fire truck driver collected $164,045 in 2021, well above the $147,126 pay the city’s fire chief collected that year.

The city of Battle Creek paid 56 of its employees $100,000 or more in 2021, with 22 of them on the fire department payroll.

The city of Warren has announced plans to launch a fire cadet recruitment program. It is a way to avoid having to pay the overtime required under a minimum staffing mandate, according to Fire Commissioner Wilburt “Skip” McAdams.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.