Orange County fire captain rakes in over $500,000 thanks to soaring overtime pay

A $245,350 overtime payout — the 13th largest of the more than 1.3 million public workers surveyed statewide — boosted Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) captain Gregory Bradshaw’s total compensation to $508,495 last year, an amount more than four times greater than his $116,846 salary.

While Bradshaw was OCFA’s top earner, his fellow fire captains weren’t too far behind, with the average fire captain having received $301,791 in pay and benefits last year — according to an analysis of freshly released 2016 salary data published on

In 2014, an OCFA board member expressed frustration over “an accounting gimmick used to generate significant overtime costs,” according to an Orange County Register report.

While the Board’s concerns led to the implementation of an overtime cap effective April 1, 2015, overtime pay continued to rise nonetheless — with last year’s $47 million expenditure representing a more than 18 percent increase from the previous year.

The continued growth in overtime pay was also evident on an individual employee basis: The 44 OCFA employees who received overtime pay in excess of $100,000 last year represent a nearly threefold increase from the previous year, when there were only 15 employees who earned that much.

Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner noted an alarming trend where a handful of employees who had received overtime in excess of their regular salary in the preceding years actually increased their overtime pay in 2016, after the cap was in place.

“Several employees who were already more than doubling their salary from overtime pay actually saw an increase after the cap took effect — which suggests that cap might need to be tightened a bit.”

To explore the full OCFA dataset as well as historical data dating back to 2011, please click here.

Orange County cities

Transparent California — the state’s largest and most accurate public pay database — recently added 2016 pay data for 411 California cities and 49 counties.

The site now features 2016 data from every Orange County city but Placentia — which has not yet replied to a public records request for this information.

“It is disheartening that Placentia has not yet responded to our records request, but we very much appreciate the professionalism of all the other Orange County governments who facilitated our request in a prompt manner.”

Overtime pay up 19% at Anaheim

The City of Anaheim was home to the 5 largest overtime payouts of any Orange County city surveyed:

  • Fire Engineer III Brian Pollema’s $204,458 OT pay boosted his total compensation to $403,528.
  • Fire Fighter III Daniel Lambert’s $186,228 OT pay boosted his total compensation to $357,184.
  • Fire Engineer III David Shimogawa’s $163,325 OT pay boosted his total compensation to $338,937.
  • Fire Captain Mark Dunn’s $157,673 OT pay boosted his total compensation to $372,496.
  • Senior Electrical Utility Inspector Kenneth Heffernan’s $155,356 OT pay boosted his total compensation to $300,917.

Of the 148 California cities with at least $1 million in overtime pay surveyed, the average year over year increase in overtime pay was 5 percent.

Anaheim’s 19 percent increase in overtime pay was the most of any Orange County city and the 13th largest statewide.

The next four cities with the largest overtime pay increases in Orange County were:

  • Buena Park: 18.5 percent, 14th largest statewide.
  • Irvine: 17 percent, 17th largest statewide.
  • Costa Mesa: 17 percent, 21st largest statewide.
  • Fullerton: 14 percent, 30th largest statewide.

Orange County pay data

In 2015, the only Orange County worker to make over $400,000 in pay and benefits was Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who received total compensation of $400,214.

The 2016 county payroll data reveals 11 workers making over $400,000 — with two county psychiatrists topping $500,000 apiece.

Total compensation at the county experienced a much milder increase, however, rising only 3 percent to just under $2 billion last year.

To view the complete datasets in a searchable and downloadable format, please visit


  1. These fine folks are gaming the system to the max and no one is doing a damn thing about it. The corruption runs from top to bottom and everywhere in between. If the corruption was eliminated the taxpayers could run this state on 35% of what it takes now.

  2. This should be front page news spread all over the globe and yet only one truth sayer had the guts to investigate and publish. It is clear this practice is wide spread from city to county to state to federal government. Retirement perks along with this insanity has broken California’s financial back. Question, what kind of people are we to keep voting the mafia back into office year after year?

    • The mafia wouldn’t take care of illegals the way Gov. Moonbeam. I *wish* we still had the Mafia running the country. This is just some terrible people taking advantage of a system that has no checks and balances. They are probably good people, too, but have gotten sucked in by a 1/2 million dollar yearly salary. But their pension, which is paid by ALL of us, will be based on that number. If they retire with 3/4 salary, which is standard, that’s just ridiculous. Deans of colleges make that much and it’s also ridiculous.

  3. I don’t understand how fire fighters get overtime pay. They should be paid a salary commensurate with the job which should be a 24/7 job just like someone in private business. If it is the leaders (captains) that are receiving these huge amounts of overtime pay, who approves them (probably the Captain himself). Talk about a corrupted system; it is ripe for the taking. But remember people who is it who puts these guys in office to allow these shenanigans to go on? You do!

    • If there are unfilled vacancies, should they shut down the fire station? Or, should they ask for volunteers to fill the shift so someone is there to respond to your medical emergency, or put out a fire at your home?

    • Robert, you are wrong, in more ways than you know. As a retired firefighter, here’s how it works. First, there’s an opening that needs to be filled, due to someone sick or on vacation. We’ll use a Captains position as an example. The department needs a captain for OT, any captains can put their name into the list and it’s based on time already served. If only one Captains name is entered then he/she gets it. A captain can’t give it to himself. Someone higher up in rank has to approve it.
      Now sometimes, believe it or not, it’s cheaper to pay OT than to higher another employee. Most departments run a leaner staff and pay OT to save money in the long run. Also remember, the fire department can’t shut down due to OT problems. If you call 911, you expect someone to get there ASAP.
      P.S. OT is mostly voluntary but sometimes mandatory. I worked many days on OT not by choice. Missed many Christmas and kids games. Loved the job and it’s a sacrifice we choose to do. I don’t know if this clears things up or not.

  4. Without accounting for ‘Campaign Fires’ (which can last for weeks) the numbers lack important information.
    Some firefighters volunteer for duty in excess of their normal shifts (others get drafted, if a big one starts while on shift) and can spend weeks in the smoke and heat on fires like Big Sur and such.

    Do a ‘Goodsearch’ for the “Granite Mountain Hotshots” (only one left alive) to add relevance to the numbers, which too often translate to injury and even Death.

  5. retiredxlr8r says

    And then they will retire and 55 drawing a very substantial retirement for 30 plus years as much or more years than they put in full time.!
    As much as fireman do a great service, it is their choice, but they always use the danger of the job to draw more wages and work less hours.
    Bottom line, get a job as a fireman/woman and you have won the state lottery!
    There really needs to be some adjustment in this, wages, overtime, and retirement. It is way out of balance.
    Too much overtime being paid probably means not enough staff. And if you can’t afford the staff, maybe you are paying too much to the staff you have. Time to audit and fix or plan on going broke!

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