AFD staffing shortage costs over $20 million in overtime pay

The Austin Fire Department is facing some staffing issues. The hiring process and a federal crackdown is causing a staffing shortage. 

The department has spent over $20 million in overtime pay because of the shortage. Current employees are having to cover shifts for nearly 130 vacancies. 

Assistant Chief Aaron Woolverton says part of the problem is due to a hiring penalty imposed by the federal government back in 2013. Woolverton says the Justice Department received a complaint that AFDs hiring process was discriminatory against Hispanic and African-American applicants. 

"The Department of Justice declared there was disparate impact against the minority group and we couldn't hire beyond that 200 mark on that list," he said. 

Adding to the problem, Woolverton says there was also an expansion in the staffing model to meet safety requirements and an increase in resignations. He is hoping a change to the hiring process will fill the large gap. 

"Instead of an annual or biannual two year event we would actually have year round hiring processes more similar to what the Austin Police Department currently does," Woolverton said. 

The department is currently in the hiring process and hopes to hire new cadets by October.