The Seattle Fire Department spent $37.7 million on overtime wages in 2021, the highest in its history and a more than 50% increase in five years as the department faces a staffing shortage.
Last Christmas Eve, Seattle firefighter Daniel Kieta clocked in to work a 24-hour shift. He worked another 24 hours the next day, and after a day’s rest, put in a second 48-hour shift, logging 130 hours — all overtime — in the final week of the year.
It was the most extreme week for Kieta, who worked the most hours of any city employee last year. But it was not an anomaly for the 51-year-old firefighter, or for the Seattle Fire Department.
SFD paid out $37.7 million in overtime last year, a 49% increase over 2019 and the most in department history, as it grappled with an uptick in emergencies, shouldered a broader workload and lost firefighters. The department says “unprecedented staffing shortages” are continuing.
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