SKED FOR DOWNEY FIREFIGHTERS: TWO DAYS ON, THEN FOUR DAYS OFFBy Christian Brown
Hoping to promote continuity among regional fire departments while increasing the efficiency of local firefighters, the Downey Fire Department is about to begin an 18-month trial of the “48/96” shift schedule—that is, firefighters will work two consecutive 24-hour shifts, then take four consecutive days off.
The change begins June 29—this Wednesday—and comes just two weeks after the City Council approved the trial as part of a larger benefits contract between the city and the union representing Downey’s 60 firefighters.
For nearly 35 years, the fire department has used the “Kelly Schedule,” which requires firefighters to work one 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off, another 24-hour shift, followed by 24 hours off, then an third 24-hour shift, followed by four days off duty.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Seely, city firefighters will still work 56 hours per week under the 48/96 work schedule, but the altered rotation maximizes the department’s manpower.
“It’s up to the guys to make this work. If they want it, they have to demonstrate that it’s a win-win scenario. We don’t want to lose any productivity,” Seely said. “The city is not willing to give up any quality. Any errors are unacceptable so we’re going to monitor morale, fatigue, poor decision-making … those things that may be potential concerns.”
Seely said the new shift schedule will be reviewed after six-month, 12-month and 18-month intervals, allowing department officials to observe successes and failures.