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Saving money by changing your shifts

As city leaders continue to grapple with how to balance budgets, a few are eyeing changes to fire fighters’ schedules as a way to make up revenue.

In Pennsylvania, it has been reported that two mayors – in Harrisburg and Lancaster – are considering shifting schedules where fire fighters are on 24 hours and have 48 hours off.

Currently, fire fighters work two day shifts and two night shifts that are followed by four days off.

A consulting company recommended the changes to increase city efficiency and to lower costs.

In Harrisburg, fire fighters are battling the mayor over budget cuts. Last week, 10 fire fighters received layoff notices.

The mayor of Lancaster has reportedly tried for the past year to get fire fighters to accept the 24-hour shift schedule. The shift would help the city save at least $400,000, the mayor said.

New president of Lancaster Local 319 Tim Erb told Lancaster Online that fire fighters could be persuaded to approve the 24-hour staffing change under the right circumstances.

He said those circumstances would have to include fire fighters being compensated for the additional hours. He also said fire fighters would change to the 24/48 hour schedule if they could have a 45-hour work week and a four percent increase in longevity payments.

Will it work? What are the pros/cons of the scheduling shift? How many other IAFF locals have had a similar experience?

Comments (7) -

  • Sean Logan (Helena)

    12/9/2010 9:43:32 AM |

    Our jurisdication tried to get us to go to a 9 hour schedule (5 days on/3 days off) which was our police department's schedule.  The idea was to eliminate firefighter down time.  We pointed out that it was a more costly schedule in terms of overtime and actually reduced our daily staffing levels.  I think they finally got it as it eventually withered away.

  • Brian Smith (Reading)

    12/9/2010 9:53:40 AM |

    From what I understand our Local attempted to offer a minor schedule change that would have resulted in more than a million in savings, the admin refused to hear it. To me, this is a direct answer that they don't want to just save money, they want to cut staffing.

  • Douglas Baier (Bremerton)

    12/9/2010 2:27:57 PM |

    I don't understand why "being compensated for the additional hours" would be an issue. If you're at work and "waiting to be engaged" the hours are compensable under F.L.S.A. Why would this need to be negotiated?

  • David Gervasi (Scranton)

    12/10/2010 12:58:27 PM |

    The city of Scranton attempted to change our schedules from 4 on 4 off to 24/48's. The would have moved us from our current 42 hour workweek to a 56, but reduced to 48 with the use of Kelly Days. They wanted us to eat the extra 6 hours a week. They won the right to change our schedule, but lost on the extra 6 hours. The arbitor and two appellate courts said the city must pay us for our hours worked. Straight time, but pay us nonetheless.

  • Jack Freeman (Tuscaloosa)

    12/10/2010 7:02:53 PM |

    We already work 24/48, never known any different.  City gives us a shift off every 39 days in order to keep us under the hours that would require overtime to be paid.

  • Mark St. Clair (McKeesport)

    12/10/2010 9:51:15 PM |

    The "being compensated for the additional hours" is an issue because I'm sure that both Mayor's are expecting the firefighters to work those additional hours, but get paid the same as before.

    As was mentioned, the proposed schedule change would increase the average work week from 42 hours to 56 hours unless Kelly days or similar are included.  Personally, I think it's more than reasonable to expect additional compensation for working an additional 14 hours of work per week.

  • Scott Tschirgi (Spokane Valley)

    12/21/2010 11:33:09 PM |

    We currently work a 24/48 with 13 kelly days a year which puts us at about 50 hours per week.  It's a great schedule in my opinion.  A neighboring department works 24/72 but they have 8 debit shifts per year.  And there are some departments in the state that work a 48/96.  Not sure that I want to be away from the family for 48 hours, unless there's OT involved of course.

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