FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW WILL SPOUSES BE AFFECTED BY THE 48-96 SCHEDULE?
It is very well understood that the firefighter’s schedule has a tremendous impact on the lives of their family. When a firefighter is at work for 48 hours straight, that undeniably puts a great deal of strain on their spouse who is running the household and taking care of kids. While this is certainly a very valid concern, it is believed that the benefits of the 48-96 schedule, such as being at home four days in a row, more weekends off, more mornings at home, etc., more than compensate for this burden. This can be proven by the increase in favor that the 48-96 schedule continues to receive on the second vote following the trial period and the results of the survey conducted by the Oakland Fire Department in 2010. When surveyed, the Fresno Fire Department and Stockton Fire Department, who previously worked our current 24-48 schedule before switching to the 48-96 schedule, responded with the following information when asked how their significant other likes the 48-96 schedule:
81.8% Responded that their family/significant other “Likes” the 48/96 schedule
10% Responded their family/significant other is “Neutral” to the 48/96 schedule
8.2% Responded that their family/significant other “dislike” the 48/96 schedule
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT VACATION RELIEF FIREFIGHTERS?
The 48-96 schedule has the potential to have a large impact on swing personnel due in part to the culture of the Fort Worth Fire Department and the possibility of swing firefighters being shipped to another station on the second shift. However, many swing firefighters routinely work overtime and exchange of time now with no issues.
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT EXCHANGE OF TIME?
Many firefighters routinely trade shifts in an effort to allow more time off for various reasons. Many departments have reported less “shift trading” after switching to the 48-96 schedule simply because firefighters are able to accomplish more within four days off versus two days, therefore there is simply less need to extend their off time. However, firefighters will still need to take off work and trade shifts, so exchange of time should continue to be used as policy allows. SOP 1401 allows firefighters to work up to 72 hours. While it is possible to exchange time and work a 72 hour shift, it’s important to point out that it is not required. If you work on your second or third day off, there are 122 opportunities to work XOT without working a 72 hour shift.
The following example shows a C shift firefighter working for a B shift firefighter without working a 72 hour shift:
IF I NEED BOTH DAYS OFF DO I HAVE TO FIND TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE TO WORK FOR ME?
If you need both shifts covered, then yes you will have to have two different firefighters work your two shifts because firefighters are not allowed to work more than 72 hours. By taking off two shifts you will receive ten days instead of eight days off, which is what our current schedule provides when taking two shifts off. However, it is understood that you may not need ten days off; you may only need those two particular days off. One potential option is a tour swap, which means that you swap both shifts (the entire 48 hour tour) with another firefighter. By swapping the entire 48 hour tour with a different shift, no one works more than 48 hours and this gives you a total of six days off.
The following example shows a B shift firefighter and a C shift firefighter swapping tours:
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT TRAINING?
The schedule change should not have any negative effects on training because it does not change the number of days/weekdays worked each month. It is possible that the 48-96 could have a positive effect on scheduling due to increased continuity of companies, which could result from a decrease in exchange of time and a potential decrease in sick time. Many of the departments working the 48-96 routinely schedule their busy companies for training on the first shift of the 48 hour tour and the slower companies on the second shift.
ARE THERE MORE MAYDAYS FROM 48/96 DEPARTMENTS?
There is no evidence that suggests maydays are more common on 48 hour shifts. Don Abbott has published a 3 part study known as "Project Mayday." In the second installment, "Maydays by the Numbers," Abbott discusses a total of 272 maydays that occurred in career departments between Nov '14 and April '15. He breaks down those 272 maydays by shift schedule and reports the following findings:
24/48 = 136 maydays (50%)
48/96 = 106 maydays (39%)
24/48 on overtime = 30 maydays (11%)”
“Less than 9% of participating departments work a 48/96 shift schedule, but this shift accounts for 39% of maydays.”
While this information appears to be significantly important, we must point out that based on Abbott’s own information, this report only shows a fraction of all the maydays that occur each year, and there is no mention of the maydays that occur on the Kelley schedule, which is a very popular work schedule throughout the country. In the first installment, “The Mayday Project,” Abbott tells us that 831 career departments reported maydays but fails to provide a time frame of when these maydays occurred. In the final report, “2015 Annual Project Mayday General Report,” Abbott discusses maydays that were reported during a 2 year period, 2015-2016. He reports the following information:
“2,379 career departments reported maydays."
"It is believed that this information represents only 8-10% of all the actual maydays taking place in the fire service each year."
Based on the information provided by Abbott, there could be a total of 11,000-14,000 maydays occurring each year, but there is no other mention of maydays categorized by shift schedules. With the information that is provided, it is impossible to know if one schedule produces more maydays than another schedule. We have attempted to collect more data from Abbott without success.
Are there more injuries on the 48/96 schedule?
No fire department that we have surveyed has reported a significant change in the number of injuries since the adoption of the 48/96. It has been difficult to obtain solid information that compares data from pre-48/96 to post-48/96. However, the following fire departments have provided us with an extensive analysis of their experience on the 48/96, and they report the following findings regarding injuries:
West Metro Fire - No change in injuries and no injuries were directly or indirectly related to fatigue.
48/96 Study by West Metro Fire and St. Anthony Hospital (please see Pg. 3)
San Jose Fire - Increase in total injuries/decrease in injuries resulting in lost time
Pre 48/96 = 279 total injuries/144 injuries resulting in lost time (Jan 1- Dec 31, 2016)
Post 48/96 = 323 total injuries/53 injuries resulting in lost time (Jan 1- Dec 31, 2017)
48/96 Work Schedule Pilot Program Quarterly Report - Qtr. 4 (please see Pg. 8)
Minneapolis Fire - Decrease in injuries on their 48/96 shift
24 hr shift = 1.3 injuries per employee ('01-'02)
48/96 shift = 1.1 injuries per employee ('01-'02)
The Management Effects of Firefighters Working a Consecutive 48-Hour Shift
24 hr shift = 0.36 injuries per employee ('07-'09)
48/96 shift = 0.34 injuries per employee ('07-'09)
Are there more vehicle accidents on the 48/96 schedule?
No fire department has reported a significant change in accidents since adopting the 48/96. Again, data was difficult to obtain on this, but the following departments reported these findings:
West Metro Fire - No change in the number accidents
Pre 48/96 = 21 total accidents / 17 avoidable ('04-'05)
Post 48/96 = 22 total accidents / 15 avoidable ('06-'12)
48/96 Study by West Metro Fire and St. Anthony Hospital (please see Pg. 5)
San Jose Fire - Decrease in accidents post switch
Pre 48/96 = 52 (Jan 1- Dec 31, 2016)
Post 48/96 = 35 (Jan 1- Dec 31, 2017)
48/96 Work Schedule Pilot Program Quarterly Report - Qtr. 4 (please see Pg. 7)
Minneapolis Fire - Increase in accidents on their 48/96 shift
24 hr shift = 0.092 accidents per shift ('01-'02)
48/96 shift = 0.128 accidents per shift ('01-'02)
24 hr shift = 0.088 accidents per shift ('07-'09)
48/96 shift = 0.102 accidents per shift ('07-'09)
How will this affect overtime?
While it is impossible to know exactly how this will affect overtime, we do not expect it to have a drastic impact. Some departments have reported a decrease in sick time, while others have reported no change. One thing is certain, firefighters will continue to use vacation time, and they will continue to get sick.