Mass. fire department gets $475K for overtime pay
Lynn's city council approved of the funds to help with staffing as some firefighters are being treated for injuries or work-related illnesses
By Anthony Cammalleri
LYNN, Mass. — The city transferred $475,000 from its reserve expense to the fire department this week in an effort to pay for firefighters' overtime work.
The funding will help the fire department fill staffing gaps left from firefighters who were injured on the job or are currently being treated for work-related illnesses like cancer or heart disease.
City Council voted unanimously to approve the funding this week, after Lynn saw three consecutive fires on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. On Tuesday, a firefighter was sent to Salem Hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion after battling a fire on 12 Red Rock St.
"Whenever a guy is out, we only have so many men for a shift. And then if guys are out injured, other firefighters have to work overtime to replace them, and that's where the extended cost comes in," District Fire Chief Joseph Zukas said.
Zukas said the fire department strives to keep a minimum of 35 firefighters on duty at each station during any given shift. He said a number of Lynn's approximately 180 firefighters are currently on injured or sick leave. As Lynn firefighters get older, Zukas said some of the profession's long-term health risks, such as heart disease, cancer, or broken bones, have started to present themselves.
"The nature of our job is dangerous — we go into burning buildings and the smoke that's emitted from these buildings has cancer causing chemicals. It's a dangerous profession that comes with the risk of injury or illness," Zukas said. "We have a lot of guys getting up there in age and when you get older, there's more of a chance you'll get an injury or illness."
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