LAFD spent more than $22.5M on overtime related to COVID, much of it to cover for sick firefighters

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Los Angeles firefighters and other officials investigate an explosion and fire in the Little Tokyo area of downtown L.A. on May 17, 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles firefighters and other officials investigate an explosion and fire in the Little Tokyo area of downtown L.A. on May 17, 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Fire Department has spent more than $22.5 million on overtime related to COVID-19, much of it to backfill the shifts of employees who fell ill or had to quarantine after an exposure to the virus, data reviewed by The Times show.

The numbers underscore the toll that the coronavirus is taking on Fire Department staffing amid a battle over the city mandate that employees receive vaccinations. Only about 70% of LAFD workers have been fully vaccinated, and some firefighters and union officials have warned of major staffing problems if large numbers of personnel refuse to comply with the mandate.

But the data, which The Times obtained under the California Public Records Act, show the lost time due to COVID-19 illness is already substantial, accounting for more than 400,000 hours of work completed between March 2020 and Oct. 9 of this year.

While firefighters and their union have sued over the mandate and warned of slowed response times if it is implemented in full, far less has been said about these ever-growing costs of an undervaccinated workforce — which medical experts and ethicists said is a mistake.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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