CLEVELAND – The president of the Cleveland firefighters’ union spoke Thursday morning about recent accusations of firefighters exploiting the pay system.
Last month, an audit of the Cleveland Fire Department revealed firefighters were getting paid for work they never did. The audit outlined problems with sick time being documented incorrectly, inconsistencies in payroll paperwork and issues with reporting employee information.
Tom Lally, president of Local 93, released a statement on Thursday prior to the news conference in front of the fire department headquarters on Superior Avenue.
“Local 93 has issued a request for a full, immediate and impartial audit on recent statements made by Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Director of Finance Sharon A. Dumas and Safety Director Martin L. Flask about timekeeping practices. The Administration continues to release inaccurate information. They either do not know the facts or have misrepresented them to cover up the culpability of top management. The taxpayers and our elected officers deserve the facts.”
“We are confident that an investigation, conducted by an independent party, will unveil a multitude of management mistakes and deliberate actions which have been purposefully misconstrued to place financial and operational blame of Cleveland Firefighters. The City is engaging in political posturing in advance of the EMS merger,” the statement said.
The audit said three employees of the division of fire don’t even live in Ohio. Cleveland Director of Public Safety Martin Flask said one firefighter lists San Diego as his home address and that he does extra shifts when he is in Cleveland. Another firefighter has worked just three months since January 2009, but was paid his full salary each year.
On Thanksgiving, 28 firefighters called in sick, causing a brown-out at two fire stations, officials said. The audit also included that 30 percent of retirement benefits paid to firefighters shouldn’t have been.
“Finance Director Dumas was wrong when she told The Plain Dealer that city has 40 fire companies working every day and she is paying 273 people to man them instead of the 183 need. In reality, there are 36 companies with 161 people on duty. If the city does not have the basic facts correct, it calls their entire audit into question,” the union said in a statement.
A second internal audit is scheduled to be released in January.