Fire dept. tames overtime


The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services controlled its overtime during the 2006 fiscal year, which ended June 30, spending less on it than the year before and just $21,525 more than budgeted, department spokesman William Mould said this week.

The fire department has struggled with overtime spending during an ambitious and costly program to staff each fire engine with a paramedic, rather than a less-skilled emergency medical technician, at all times.

To improve their skills, EMTs must miss shifts to complete the advanced training to become a paramedic. Personnel filling in for them earn time and a half. The five-year training program is entering its third year, Mould said.

The fire department spent about $2.81 million on an approximate $2.79 million budget, or 0.8 percent more than budgeted, on overtime in fiscal 2006. The year before that, the department went 83 percent over budget, spending $3.04 million on an approximate $1.8 million budget.

During fiscal 2007, which began July 1, about $3.12 million is budgeted for overtime.

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