How Cleveland firefighters earn more than $70K in overtime: I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered how Cleveland fire inspectors are making up to $80,000 a year in overtime.

We exposed some eye-popping paychecks and now we can show you what those firefighters are getting paid extra to do.

If you go to the big game, watch the fireworks or show up at all kinds of big events, chances are, someone from the Cleveland Fire Prevention Bureau will be there too, earning overtime.

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We recently showed you, some firefighters in that unit have been earning $40, 000, $70,000 and even $80,000 a year in overtime.

Yet, the city has no recent records of regular safety inspections of maximum risk buildings such as high-rises.

Friday, we found taxpayer watchdog Therese Pohorence asking the question you may be asking about all of that overtime.

“Well, I want to know what they did for it. And, of course, I want my tax dollars spent wisely,” Pohorence said.

We reviewed overtime request forms from the fire prevention bureau. We checked hundreds of records for the two firefighters hauling in the most overtime. We paid special attention to the section with the reason for working extra hours.

The most common reason we saw was a “fire watch” during an event, overseeing fire safety at ballgames and concerts and even graduations.

But, we also saw overtime for a pierogi festival and a baseball game that was rained out.

Here and there, we also noticed overtime tied to emergencies or, from time to time, for checks on nightclubs.

This week, we went to the assistant chief over the fire prevention bureau asking about safety inspections that haven’t been done. But, we didn’t get far trying to ask about inspections or overtime.

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“Aren’t you over the fire prevention bureau?” the I-Team asked Bradley Englehart.

“No comment,” he responded.

Multiple sources in the fire department tell us the city should get reimbursed for some fire safety coverage during big events, but how much money comes back is not clear.

We checked with a couple of people from city council and even they want an explanation.

The fire chief is not talking on camera to the I-Team.

So, the overtime records answer some questions and raise more.

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