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Police, Fire Overtime Already $1M Over Budget

by Paul Bass | Nov 15, 2012 4:28 pm

(38) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Budget

Facebook Photo

Anthony Capuano’s overtime gravy train has come to an end—and boy is he glad.

Capuano (pictured), who runs the fire department’s mechanic shop, more than doubled his paycheck in 2011, to $136,565.35, thanks to the $69,106.58 in overtime he got. He already topped $100,000 in overall compensation this calendar year by Nov. 1.

Now the department has two new people working in his three-person shop. So Capuano can got out to dinner with his wife without taking a separate car for the likely event he might be called in.

Capuano has been the biggest, but not the only big earner benefiting from an ongoing overtime problem in the city’s police and fire departments.

New figures from the city’s budget office show the departments jointly running about $1 million over their overtime budgets through the first three months of this fiscal year, which began July 1. City Budget Director Joe Clerkin said his projections show the police running $2.7 million over budget and the fire department $1.5 million over by the fiscal year’s end—if officials don’t take action to stem it.

“It’s a worst-case scenario,” Clerkin said.

And officials are taking steps to rein in the costs. One immediate step: Hire as many cops and firefighters as possible, as soon as possible, to relieve the sworn officers working long extra hours to fill in gaps. Both departments have been running far short of personnel—while crimes and fires continue demanding their attention.

The issue arose last month at a hearing of the Board of Aldermen’s Finance Committee. Board President Jorge Perez, who has been keeping watch on overtime for years, asked for more detailed breakdowns of the overtime figures so the city can try to get a handle on the costs early in the fiscal year, not later.

The issue arose again this week at a meeting between aldermanic leaders and city officials—a meeting about a host of looming budget problems this fiscal year, not just the overtime problem. City officials plan to meet Friday to start looking at measures to rein in the deficit before it grows more.

Click here for a spreadsheet of total pay from Jan. 1 through Nov. 2, 2012, for four groups of city workers: sworn cops, civilian police department employees, firefighters, civilian fire department employees. The spreadsheet shows total pay broken down into salary, overtime, extra-duty jobs, and “other,” a “catch-all category for compensation such as longevity, educational assistance, clothing allowance, shift differential, fill in differential, etc.,” according to the city’s Finance Department.

The department prepared the spreadsheet at Alderman Perez’s request. It showed two fire battalion chief collecting more than $200,000 this year, more than half of it in overtime. Two police supervisors racked up more than $70,000 in overtime, three others over $50,000.

Perez noted that not just sworn cops and firefighters have been racking up overtime, but civilian employees have, too.

“You can understand [overtime over-runs] when you’re 80 cops short and you still want to protect the city,” Perez said. “When you’re 95 firefighters short, you still need firefighters manning the truck. But I don’t understand why a mechanic earned” some $70,000 just in overtime last calendar year and more than $40,00 already this year.

Civilians On Call, Too

Local825.org Photo That chief mechanic, Capuano, earned that money being on call pretty much all the time, he said. His repair shop has three positions. One had been unfilled for well more than a year, he said. The other remaining employee was nearing retirement, so he “didn’t want any of the overtime.”

The city delayed buying new equipment to save money, meaning the older apparatus needed more repair, Capuano said. Also, people don’t realize that a mechanic has to come to the scene of any major fire to monitor equipment at the scene. “It’s not all turning wrenches,” he said.

“I pretty much gave up my family doing that. I was on call 24-7. Ask my wife: Every time we went to a function, we took different vehicles. I’m always on call,” said Capuano, who has been on the job 15 years.

“I’m not complaining. It’s my job. Am I glad it’s over? Absolutely. It makes life easier.”

Capuano does still need to be prepared for emergency calls; he responded to a 5:30 a.m. fire in Newhallville this week (pictured), for instance. But the overtime demands have decreased significantly since the city filled those two other mechanic positions with new full-time people, he said.

Police civilians ran up $1.097 million in overtime in 2012 through November, more than a fifth of their cumulative salaries. One 911 dispatcher picked up more than $40,000 in overtime from Jan. 1 through Nov. 1; another five racked up more than $30,000.

The department was running low on 911 operators, according to Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts; that’s why the overtime ran so high. Over the course of the year it has been hiring and training new ones, and the overtime is dropping.

A Tricky Calculus

Thomas MacMillan Photo Overtime costs for sworn firefighters involves trickier math. In any 28-day period, firefighters earn their straight hourly pay for the first 44 hours they work in overtime. After that it pops up to time and a half. So, noted Smuts (pictured), sometimes it costs the taxpayers less to have a firefighter work overtime than it does to have another full-time position created to pick up the slack.

However, there is no question the department has been running low of needed personnel in certain ranks. It currently has four empty deputy chief positions, one for each shift. Only two of eight battalion chief positions are filled. That means the two battalion chiefs, Paul Sandella and Patrick Andrews, have had to work long extra hours to fill those gaps. They’ve each picked up around $114,000 in overtime pay since 2012 started.

The city has tried to conduct a promotional exam to fill those eight positions, Smuts said, but the test itself is tied up in arbitration with the union. Which means many long nights and days to come for Sandella and Andrews, and time-and-a-half tabs for taxpayers. Meanwhile, the city has also been actively recruiting new firefighters to fill at least half the 80 to 90 department vacancies.

The police department faces a similar problem: It has about 70 fewer sworn cops than the 450 it needs, or the 420 it has averaged over the past decade, according to Smuts. Twelve newly trained officers are in field training; the academy is expected to graduate another 28 by year’s end, at which point a new class will begin. Promotional exams have been underway as well for supervisory ranks, which have been depleted by retirements. (Click here to read about a challenge to the sergeant exam.)

While reduced staffing levels explain much of the overtime problem, Smuts agreed with Perez that the city needs to keep scrutinizing other factors, such as changing long-term staffing needs as well as the “other earnings” category. That category includes, among other compensation, payment for sick time.

“It’s both a forest and a trees issue to look at,” Smuts said. “It’s a legitimate source of concern.”

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posted by: Morgan Barth on November 15, 2012  6:35pm

I am interested to know more about the extra-duty work that police officers do for road construction.  Is that paid for directly by police departments or do construction companies, utilities, etc pay for this service? Can any NHI readers explain how this works?

I have observed that everywhere in Connecticut even the smallest side street road work requires a police officer.  Even in New York City, when there is road work cones and/or a flag-man are enough to keep it safe. While I understand that large construction projects or road work on the interstate require police to direct traffic or ensure that motorists slow down…what’s the rationale for having a police officer present for minor work on minor streets?

posted by: streever on November 15, 2012  8:39pm

How many officers were laid off in the kerfuffle between our Mayor and the unions?

posted by: new havener on November 15, 2012  11:34pm

Morgan—-plain and simply put, this practice is municipally-endorsed extortion. You rarely see it anywhere else, even New York. My understanding is the ‘road job’ work, while paid at at premium overtime dollars at minimum 6-hours by contractual stipulations, were voted in on a town-by-town basis to increase officer’s ability to collect overtime. It’s a naked-eye scam to any driver travelling down the road. OSHA has specific guidelines regarding work-area protection, and it does not mention police standing around ‘observing’. And the OT is factored into retirements, although some will argue otherwise. In one local town, you can even see the Chief ‘standing guard’ on overtime. Unbelievable.

posted by: HhE on November 16, 2012  12:17am

Morgan, they are paid by the contractor. 

Streever, I think is was 15, but we some of them back before the rest got jobs elsewhere.  Good to remind people of this.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 16, 2012  12:41am

The joke is on us! The majority of OT and extra-duty goes to cops and firemen on the verge of retirement, to boost pensions which are based not on salaries, but on total compensation over their last four years.

And why not game the system? New Haven can afford it!

posted by: Edward_H on November 16, 2012  4:45am

“In any 28-day period, firefighters earn their straight hourly pay for the first 44 hours they work in overtime. After that it pops up to time and a half.”

Say what now?

[Editor: They start getting one and a half times their hourly pay after the first 44 hours of overtime work within any 28-day period.]

posted by: Ozzie on November 16, 2012  7:59am

extra duty work is paid by the contracting company or utility. The City also charges that company or utility for using the officer

posted by: Threefifths on November 16, 2012  8:29am

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 16, 2012 12:41am

The joke is on us! The majority of OT and extra-duty goes to cops and firemen on the verge of retirement, to boost pensions which are based not on salaries, but on total compensation over their last four years.

And why not game the system? New Haven can afford it!

What is you point.The overtime is need it.I have family who are poilce and fireman in New york.Then told me there is so much over time that they are calling out sick.They told me it is mandatory overtime.They also told me the same is going on in New Jersey with police and fireman.They are working sixteen hour shift some time one day off.Remeber 9/11.The major of those police and fireman who worked overtime will not get to spend there money due to most have lung cancer.Now what you should do and others is apply for these type of jobs and then you to can get the same benfits.New Haven Is hiring,What are you waiting for.

posted by: streever on November 16, 2012  8:47am

HhE:
I always believed that, too—until I FOI’ed a typical bill from a contractor, for the Edwards street project.

We pay those officers. The contractors bill us directly with a line item, in that case, $10,000 for “flagmen” I believe it was listed as. I asked the employee at purchasing what that was, and was told it was off-duty police officers.

Make no mistake: we pay for that, and probably more than if we just provided it, because the contractor applies their mark-up to everything.

Hey, they need some extra cash for when John calls for the max donation—both for the primary AND the general.

posted by: New Haven Tax Payer & Employee on November 16, 2012  8:50am

First of all firefighters get paid straight time for a 212 hour work cycle of 28 days, after that they’re paid time & a half. Positions need to be filled daily, & they make themselves available. New hires would require training, gear, uniforms, health insurance, pension plan, & regular payroll. The city is already giving this to the current staff who are willing to work when needed,,, days, nights, weekends, holidays, & natural disasters, & don’t forget every hour in the firehouse is time away from there families

posted by: Curious on November 16, 2012  8:55am

We’ll be paying for this for decades in pension bloat.

Instead of two mechanics each making $70,000 and little OT, we’ve got one guy making $140k which will drastically increase his pension figure, and we’ll be paying that money out until he dies.

How can a city that hosts an Ivy-league university be so stupid?

posted by: Theresa on November 16, 2012  10:10am

How can the city have money to build school after school yet not have enough money to buy fire equipment that won’t break every week?

Destefano lays off police and 2 years later is 50 short!  This administration is the poster child of bad and unaccountable government.

The story fails to mention that for every new hire the police department manages to get 2 veteran officers have left or are in the process of leaving.  Instead of stopping the exodus the city fans the flames by failing to grandfather existing employees with current contractual benefits.  More puzzling is for 20 years the Mayor signed every contract. Now the situation is so dire he won’t honor these agreements in the name of keeping the force up to strength until sufficient new officers can come aboard.

Thank goodness there are viable new mayoral candidates to get us out of the quagmire. And not soon enough!

posted by: HhE on November 16, 2012  10:54am

Good point, streever.

posted by: LtMike on November 16, 2012  11:38am

The ‘Garcia’ provision is complex.  Each division has a set hours for a defined 28 day period.  At times that number can be 142 or 164 or 18 hours. Each 28 day period changes.  Once you reach 212 hours you receive 1/2 time pay after the period ends.  Because sick leave or vacation during that period lower your hours worked.  Honestly if on the year if I was paid $3K for that I’d be surprised.  They also show base salary, but it is reflecting acting pay, incentive pay and holiday pay as OT… That number is misrepresenting.  I am a Lieutenant, but in an acting Captains position.  So that alone is a bump in my base salary.  And not to have a tear shed or look for any compassion, you work the hours at in opportune times to make the money that is reflected.  Beyond the holidays there are numerous activities missed with family and friends.  You fill a shift and keep the apparatus staffed… For what? How much is not have a Thanksgiving meal or Christmas Day with family?

posted by: HhE on November 16, 2012  11:54am

Well said, Theresa, well said.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 16, 2012  12:25pm

LT. Mike explained a complicated contract. It ought not to be so complicated. All those special provisions etc should be scrapped and streamlined. Second, overtime in the summer goes down every year like clockwork. Know why? Weather is good. People like to go fishing. Cold weather hits - overtime soars. That’s because our firefighters exploit the minimum staffing levels required in the contract which was the trade off for straight time overtime. Minimum staffing levels should be scrapped too and these firehouses ought to be staffed according to the real needs of this community.

As for what’s the value of missing a Thanksgiving meal? Or Christmas? It’s worth whatever the amount of ovetime you’re willing to sell it for. That’s not sacrifice - that’s mercenary.

posted by: LtMike on November 16, 2012  12:30pm

My correction of other incentives and acting being grouped in Overtime costs.  And we’ll stated Theresa!

posted by: 4 the record on November 16, 2012  12:52pm

Anthony Capuano is one of the most valuable assets in the NHFD. His expertise on fire apparatus is known throughout the state and beyond. As an acting Battalion Chief in the NHFD I know first hand how many times his services are called on in a 24 hr period. He is truly an invaluable asset. Mr. Capuano has nothing to do with hiring and promoting people and to the best of my knowledge has nothing to do with negotiating contracts. What Mr. Capuano is faced with is keeping a fleet of fire apparatus and many light vehicles on the road and in a state of readiness at all times. His main objective is to keep the members of the FD and the citizens and the visitors of New Haven Safe. And until recently he was doing the work of three. The vast majority of the NHFD is doing the work of two or three people. We need to hire and promote to fill 90 or so vacancies in every branch and at every level of this great Dept. Give men like Anthony Capuano and Fire Chief Mike Grant the tools they need to get the job done! Lets stop playing games and lets move forward.

Brian Jooss, Capt.
New Haven FD

posted by: 4 the record on November 16, 2012  12:59pm

Stop hiding behind your stage names! If you know so much and have so much dislike for the FD and PD at least have the intestinal fortitude to put you name to it!

Brian Jooss

posted by: streever on November 16, 2012  1:07pm

LtMike:
Just to be clear, I have a lot of respect for you & yours—any criticism I make of the agreements/etc is not that you don’t deserve it, but that our Mayor has made such a stupid management decision as to have your department so understaffed that you need to miss Thanksgiving to work.

I think most people are on the same page as me: we have nothing against you guys (or the officers) doing the job and getting O/T. We just wish we had a Mayor with a shred of management skills and foresight.

These jobs aren’t poorly paid, and we shouldn’t be in such a bad situation that we can’t fill them.

Thanks for your hard work on our behalf.

posted by: streever on November 16, 2012  1:13pm

Captain Jooss:
I hope you voted no on supporting DeStefano in the last election. You just made one of the most coherent cases against him that I’ve ever seen.

John is running this city into the ground. I sincerely hope that you and the rest of the firefighters will not endorse him (using company vehicles and supplies to do so) in the upcoming election.

As you said—he is dangerously under-staffing you, and employees are doing the job of 3 employees. What a nightmare.

posted by: 4 the record on November 16, 2012  1:27pm

@ Streever

I am a dedicated and committed member of this Dept. I am not a politician and I hold no union office. All I care about is doing my job to the best of my ability. My roots go back to before the civil war in New Haven and I want to see the Dept move forward. We have some of the best firefighters in the Nation. We need to hire and promote!!!!! Tis will be my last post on the issue.

posted by: Just a Mechanics Wife on November 16, 2012  2:12pm

Mr Perez obviously you do not know what my husband does for the fire dept. Mr Perez when the COVE starts to flood who’s down there setting up pumps & pumping water so the residents of Morris Cove’s basement’s don’t flood. He was there in the Cove when his own basement had flooded twice! During hurricane “Sandy” my husband & the other 2 “mechanics” were pumping out water @ the UI sub station on Grand & East Streets, so that UI would not have to shut it down to avoid major damage to it. This kept about 30,000 customers from losing power, but he’s just a fire mechanic! 
Mr Perez how many major holiday’s do you spend all day with your family? In the past 4 years my husband has made ONE!
How about doing a referbish of a fire apparatus in house for a savings to the city of about $65,000.00! Building bodies, making fire fighting foam units.
My husband spends about $6,000.00 a year of his own money to stay on top of the changing technology of the fire apparatus. Specking out million dollar fire apparatus and staying on top of being an ASE Master Mechanic and EVT Technician.
Mr Perez being short on help for almost four years at the shop all of this over time has caused my husband to miss family functions with our daughter’s and grandchildren, numerous sporting events.
Mr Perez it’s people like you who think a fire mechanic is just a mechanic he’s not anymore. They are professional technicians.
I could go on about how many more things he does besides being just a mechanic.
So Mr Perez next time you want to call a fire apparatus technician JUST A FIRE “MECHANIC”! KNOW ALL THE FACTS FIRST! I AM PROUD OF MY VERY HARD WORKING HUSBAND WHO GOES ABOVE & BEYOND FOR THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on November 16, 2012  2:26pm

Everyone loves firefighters, but that’s not the point here.

Paul Bass links to a presumably correct spreadeet showing that through November 2nd of this year the City has paid at least $60,000 to 265 firefighters. More than half the department is on pace to make six figures, with a pair of battalion chiefs already having earned over $200,000 each likely as a prelude to retirement and a boost to their pension.

That isn’t difficult math for your average New Haven taxpayer. Particularly when the greatest majority of the NHFD resides outside of the City.

posted by: Rivertostate on November 16, 2012  2:43pm

Noteworthy, your comment could not be more off the mark
1. The contract is not all that complicated, go to the city website and take a look for yourself. I for one would love to be paid time and a half for all my overtime worked but as a union we deemed it more important to have set staffing levels so we can provide the best possible service to the taxpayers and make our job safer so we can go home to our families. The “Garcia” provision saves the city millions of dollars in OT costs. Something not discussed here is the 90+ vacancies and where that budgeted salary / benefit money is being factored in to the equation. That number is, with a conservative estimate, $7.6 million. So subtract that from the overtime total for a true picture.

2. First off overtime spikes in the summer NOT in the winter so you are very misinformed there. And I am not sure how firefighters are exploiting the minimum staffing levels. The city and the union signed off on a staffing agreement that ensured SAFE staffing levels for the residents, visitors, and firefighters of the city. Maybe you have some vast fire service operational experience, I’d love to hear how you think we should be staffed and still provide the level of service we provide. You can’t fault the men and women of the NHFD, we did not create this mess.

3. As far as compensation for a holiday…...I am scheduled off for Thanksgiving and will not work overtime. But I’ve worked 4th of July, Easter, Labor Day, my sons birthday, and I will be working Christmas Eve and Christmas Night .... All my regular scheduled shifts. I am not looking for sympathy or a pat on the back, this is the job I signed up for. BUT don’t you dare say the police officers and firefighters don’t sacrifice a lot over the course of there careers.

4. If my job is so lucrative and great keep an eye out for the job posting, we hopefully will be hiring soon. Take the test!!! I’d love to take you down your first hot and smokey hallway while your family is home having Christmas dinner hoping you will come home safely.

posted by: streever on November 16, 2012  3:03pm

That is great, Captain! Please encourage your fellow firemen to vote NO on endorsing
DeStefano this time around. He will do nothing for you or your department. Good luck in your endeavors, and stay safe!

posted by: peedee on November 16, 2012  6:38pm

If the police are 70 officers short.  An officer’s salary is about 62,000.
62,000 x 70 = 4,340,000.

The fire dept. is 90 short. Their salary is about 70,000?
70,000 x 90 = 6,300,000.

Is the city spending too much or are they saving money in salaries and benefits?

posted by: Over The Bridge on November 16, 2012  7:24pm

I proudly work at another area Fire Department. Over the last approximately 8 years I have had the pleasure to become good friends with Tony Capuano and the crew at the shop. The service they provide to the FD, and its residents are second to none. I wish my department had FD mechanics like New Haven. Like I mentioned, I am also a Firefighter, and subject to the same nonsense shown in this article. I love articles such as this with the dollar amounts, ranting and raving about all the overtime etc. I looked at the spread sheets and found exactly what I expected, the missing columns. That would be the columns showing the daily, weekly, and year to date total HOURS WORKED. I say hours worked, not the time he has spent off the clock. Is he crazy for doing that…some may think so, but those are the ones that don’t really know Tony as I do. The dedication and pride he has for “his department and its fleet” shows in his work day in, day out. He never says no to anyone with a issue with any of the apparatus or equipment. Tony and his crew put out some unbelievable work on a very small budget., saving the taxpayers countless money time and time again.His home life has suffered just like the rest of us on the PD and FD. Unlike the other city departments, ours never ever closes at the end of the day. And just as was previously stated, we are not looking for anything special. We took the job knowing what came with it. But how dare those that enjoy the services we provide no matter what with no questions asked after a 911 call for help criticize what it takes to provide those very services you demand every day, 24/7/365.In closing, I would suggest to those looking for someone to blame for fiscal problems the city has, stop pointing fingers. The answer can be found in the mirror every time you look in it

posted by: Elm City Lifer on November 16, 2012  8:17pm

Capt. Joos and Just a mechanics wife:
Seems to me some of your statements are misleading.  Looking at budget documents there appears never to have been a time that Tony C. has ever been the only mechanic so he could not have been doing the job of 3 people as Capt joos states.  It also appears as of january 1st there were 3 mechanics in the NHFD.  This seems to also be the time that Tony C. was earning substantial OT, even though all the departments mechanic positions where filled.  Also he is paid more than the other special mechanics according to the salaries and he gets 9000.00 extra under other salary so he may be being compensated through other agreements for the master mechanic and EVT technician specialties that his wife has highlighted. Maybe Just a Mechanics Wife could verify these things?  There are probably some firefighters that have training and qualifications that far exceed others but at the end of the day there firefighters. So the moral of this story is Tony C. Is just a mechanic who happens to be well liked by some and well taken care of by others.  And I highly doubt he is happy his gravy train has ended.  The question is who is going to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE?!?!?!?!?

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on November 16, 2012  10:37pm

How do all the Fire Union Members feel now that you are going to arbitration after supporting the king in his re-election?
Why this report now? This is the same over-budget spending on overtime that has been going on for years on end. Maybe your buddy the King wanted the populous to see your salaries, get us infuriated, and help him gain an edge in pension negotiations.
Hope you think twice about who to support next November.

posted by: LtMike on November 17, 2012  12:03pm

After a while you get conditioned to putting in extra hours… it’s sad but true.  The reality is for the next year, not a whole lot can change.  If a class of 40 graduates late summer we are going to lose 20-30 people by that time… The CITY has failed to hire… promotional exams are tied up in courts and the city is reactive and not proactive.  Streever and others I am sure you can agree with that.  I am a resident, grew up in this city, have family in the city and have a stake in all this as a tax payer and employee! There is a point that not having the ranks completely filled IS beneficial to the city… I don’t know what that is… 40? Seeing a vast majority of OT is straight time… it costs less not having to pay medical benefits, clothing, PPE, pension contributions and such.  We have surpassed that at this point though!

posted by: Just another mechanic on November 17, 2012  12:40pm

.Dear Elm city lifer,
  The overtime problem in New Haven that you seam to be blaming on individuals. Especially  Tony C. (Just A Mechanic) should not even be a problem. If you you do the math presented in this article. The lower pay scale of an officer is 62,000 with 80 short that comes to 4,960,000 that has not been payed out. 2.7 million is predicted in Ot that’s 2,260,000 saved. The lower pay scale for a Firefighter is 67,000 with 95 short that comes to 6,365,000 that has not been payed out. 1.5 million projected Ot that’s 4,865,000 saved for a total savings of 7,125,000. This savings which has put the life of Police officers and Firefighters in danger by working long hours, and more time on the job. But yet you accuse them of taking advantage of a system that your Government has created. Maybe as an Elm city lifer you should be more concerned about what your City is doing trying to pinch penny’s, by cutting staff that is needed for the City’s safety. There are are a lot  of hard working employees that are not the blame for this problem. The remark Just a mechanic  is used in a condescending way for and individual that seems to me you do not know very well.

posted by: streever on November 17, 2012  1:58pm

LtMike: Absolutely. I don’t blame any of you guys for taking the hours—who wouldn’t take them? I probably would too if I was you. It isn’t your fault that the city is a mess administratively.

The Mayor is the one to blame: he appoints the managers, the bean counters, and signs the laws. Not you or the Captain or any mechanics!

posted by: Officer in New Haven on November 17, 2012  4:27pm

First of all let me start by saying I do not know Tony C. But let me tell you what he did for the NHPD and the safety of its officers assigned to the intersection of Kimberly and the blvd. after Hurricane Sandy. During Hurricane Sandy, the area around Kimberly and the blvd. lost power. The traffic lights were not working and the PD brought over their light tower to power the traffic control box. Friday evening, the light tower lost power right before rush hour. It would not restart and Tony C. was called by his boss to assist. He brought a small generator over to power the lights. Saturday morning the small generator died and the FD brought over their light tower. Sunday morning their light tower shut down. Tony C was called to look at it, but he didn’thave the tools to repair it and did not have another generator. So, for our officers safety that were assigned to that post, and to prevent an accident at the intersection, Tony left his own personal truck on the corner to power the traffic lights, until he secured a larger generator. Fortunately power came back on about 4 hours later. Tony C used his own truck for the safety of our officers at that corner and you people have the nerve to hammer him. This man deserves a medal. Tony, if nobody from the PD thanked you, I thank you.

posted by: Tony Cap on November 17, 2012  5:58pm

Elm City Lifer:

  Elm City Lifer, originally, there were 4 filled positions for special fire mechanics. Years ago, the city layed off and then eliminated 1 of these positions. In the past 3 years, there have been 3 positions filled. HOWEVER, during most of this time 1 mechanic was out on medical. With a person out on medical and still on the books, the city couldn’t fill the position till he retired.  Therefore, we were down to 2 out of 3 mechanics. The other mechanic was nearing retirement. His job was the on the road guy. He went out on the road and did lights, minor repairs, and fire hydrant service and repair. (My wife left out that we do all the service and repair of city owned fire hydrants.) He refused all overtime offered to him, he retired in June of this year and as everyone knows, with city employees the last couple of years before retirement they slow down.
  On being paid higher than the other 2 technicians, the city uses a step and range program to calculate pay schedules. I am at the highest range and step in that program. Remember, I have been there for 15 years. The other 2 technicians, 1 just completed his first year of service. The other, has 2 months of service with the city. They start at a lower step and range.
  As for being compensated for EVT, there is a stipulation in my contract that allows 1 person to have this. I was the only one to have this EVT certification up until we hired the 2 professional technicians we have now.
  And as far as being well liked, I would hope that I am well liked by my co-workers. As far as being well taken care of by others, I am not and NEVER was politically connected to ANYONE!
  As far as not being happy that “the gravy train” is ending, REREAD THE ARTICLE!  I AM HAPPY! My family knows who I am again. I know the work that I do and the job that I perform for the fire department and the city. I give 200 percent ALWAYS. With that said, I am done here. I am not going to respond to anyone on this matter. I am not going to have a pissing match with anyone.

posted by: HhE on November 17, 2012  6:31pm

When I was a teacher, on occasion, people would say something to me along the lines of, “You get to go home a three, summers off, and good benefits.  I wish I had that.”  Well, I would to start to tell them how to become teacher, and that is when they would walk away.

I don’t begrudge the pay and benbenefits those that keep us safe.  I know I am not physically capable of the work, and I have my doubts about having the necessary courage.  (I concede that we may have to change the OT pension relationship.  My idea is that we grandfather current serving.)

So thanks Anthony Capuano, LtMike, Brian Jooss, and everyone else.  I sleep better at night, and your pay is one part of my tax bill I don’t mind paying. 

The Mayor’s wasteful spending however I could do without.  How ironic he gets credit for good management.

posted by: NHFDCP on November 17, 2012  10:48pm

Being new as a poster, I am a little late commenting. Many of the points about the root cause of the overtime has been discussed, and thankfully, it seems that some here don’t blame the individuals who work the hours reflected in the larger checks. For the FD, it makes no difference if you are a rookie or near retirement, OT hiring is done off a list based on your working division, not your seniority. As you read the spreadsheets, you see that several people never work overtime, and others maybe one or two shifts per year. Those with the highest amounts work whenever the phone rings. For an individual like Tony Capuano, for a long time, he didn’t have the ability to decline. His character and dedication to the Department is what kept (and keeps) the hardware we need in working order. Obviously we run 24 hours a day, and there are times things need to be fixed after hours. People forget too, that Tony was one of the guys who got the massive generators running at Bella Vista when they failed during a blackout. He is very good at what he does, and often saves the Department money by fabricating things he needs rather than buying them. Thankfully the Department has hired for the positions at the shop to share the workload. Tony may finally be able to leave New Haven County for vacation.
Please don’t make Tony Capuano the poster boy for the overtime issues—He didn’t create them…

Lt. Chris Parker

posted by: Gogs on November 24, 2012  2:30am

After reading this article and being someone who is actively pursuing a career in firefighting I have to admit that one small portion of this article has me a bit perplexed. From what I’m reading it states that the city is actively persuing candidates to fill 80-90 firefighter positions. Now can someone please inform me as to how the city is doing this? I live in the Annex section of New Haven and I haven’t heard anything, I regularly check the newspaper and the citys website. Where exactly is this recruiting happening? Am I missing something? If anyone knows please share. Thanks.

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