PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Firefighters have filed a collective lawsuit against the City of Pittsburgh.
Lawyers said some are working 90-hour weeks and are not being paid appropriately.
There are around 100 current and retired firefighter brass that could be affected by this lawsuit, which alleges the city has mandated overtime, but hasn’t been paying the fair rate.
Battalion chiefs, captains and deputy chiefs are putting in a lot of extra hours lately, according to Joshua Bloom, the lawyer representing them.
“There may be individuals who in a 28-day period are working 100 hours of overtime,” Bloom said.
Bloom said the reason for filing the lawsuit is that the high-ranking firefighters are not receiving time-and-a-half for mandated, unscheduled work. The overtime pay they do receive is not at the appropriate pay rate for their rank either.
“They’re only asking to be compensated the hours that they lawfully worked, which were in extreme and a large number of hours,” Bloom said.
“We’re exercising our privileges to what the federal government has said we’re entitled to,” Firefighter Union President Joe King said.
According to King, the bigger issue is that new firefighters aren’t being hired. He said the city should have 722 firefighters on the payroll, but there are only 590 at the moment.
“We had a list of new recruits in 2008. We did not hire one recruit, one city resident to be a firefighter. They have elected to have the neighborhood fire stations operate on overtime,” King said.
Lawyers said overtime could be the least of the worries as too much work could lead to potentially more dangerous problems.
“There’s a public safety issue when it comes to burnout. These firefighters are plainly working too many hours,” Bloom said.
KDKA-TV’s Heather Abraham was told that the city has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.