GWINNETT COUNTY, GA — A billboard complaining about overtime Gwinnett County firefighters are required to work is turning some heads in Lawrenceville.
Former firefighter Michael Flanagan signed the contract for the billboard at Hwy. 316 and Ga. 20, but says there are actually 40 people behind it. The rotating sign asks the county to stop mandatory overtime for firefighters complaining $15 million has been spent over three years.
“The firefighters are tired,” he says. “Firefighters work 24 hours a day. Then, if they have to work overtime, they’re working another 24.”
Flanagan says it is having an effect on firefighters’ family life as well as affecting their well-being and health.
He says no current firefighters will come forward to express their concerns for fear of repercussions.
Capt. Tommy Rutledge tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish overtime became necessary after a new policy went into place in 2014 to require new recruits receive training to become both a firefighter and a certified paramedic. He says it’s lengthened the training process from 12 to 16 months.
“We know that there’s an end to it. We’re looking at mid-2019 once we’re able to graduate the current recruits from the academy,” he says.
The department, which is authorized to have 916 employees, currently has seven vacancies including five firefighter/paramedic positions and two administrative positions.