Union City Supplemental


To:        Local 1946

CC:        Chief Kelly

From:     Local 1946 E-board

Date:     1/16/2006

Re:        Supplemental Information on 48/96 Work Schedule


We went out and found more information on the 48/96-work schedule from some of the fire departments that are using this as of today.  We talked to 8 different departments.  We talked to the training chiefs and operation chiefs of those departments for their insights and issues on the new work schedule.  We asked how this schedule had impacted their day-to-day operations.  Some common threads came to the surface and we list them in the following pages.


The issue of sick leave use has been brought up in all the departments, in all but one department the sick leave use has gone down.  In Hillsborough FD, the sick leave use has dropped 25-30% in one year and is continuing to drop.  In Manhattan Beach the drop was dramatic, 1800 hours a year to 250 hours a year.  They have been using this work schedule since 1998.  That is 42 hrs/person vs. 6hrs/person here in UCFD.  Burlingame was the only department to have sick use go up, they did not know why at this time.  They have been using the schedule since 7/2001.  For all the departments the issue of Mandatory Overtime was almost none existent.  More people were willing to work overtime because they have been off more.  Fully staffed departments have not had any problems with people volunteering to work the overtime.  Scheduling overtime was an issue.  If you hold over one day, you have to be able to get someone else the next day.  Early notification of sick use can prevent most of this.  Most people did not want to use 2 days of sick time at once.


The training chiefs all said that the scheduling of training was about the same now as before.  They just had to plan a little more with the 48/96-work schedule.  There are enough overlap days to schedule training with other agencies on different work schedules.  No one department had many issues with bringing in outside trainers for specialized training.  They just had to bring them in for two days and then an additional day later in the month.  Training officers did feel that more training was getting done.  They could start one day on certain training and if it was interrupted for emergencies, it was very easy to continue it the next day with the same crew.


All the departments have found the more projects get completed in a timely manner.  The employees can concentrate on one thing for 2 days.  Contacting outside people and following up the very next day was a common theme.  Those people on a regular work schedule are able to call back the next day and talk to the correct person.  Interruptions during the day also does not sidetrack people as much, they can finish up the next day.  Sausalito FD training officer felt that a 50% reduction occurred for small things falling through the cracks.  People did not forget things that needed to be told to the oncoming person, on duty personnel could handle it themselves the next day. 


There were some negative outcomes from this work schedule.  Communication is an important process with this 48/96-work schedule.  One shift can be working on a weekend cycle and miss the administration people for two weeks at a time.  There must be good communication via email and telephone messages.  Good instructions to your internal and external customers are very important.  Being very clear when you are working and which days you will be back is a necessary process for this work schedule. 


Other identifiable possible shortcomings might include the following: if you have a very busy station with crews being up all night, the perception is they may not be of much use the next day.  Items such as station maintenance and vehicle maintenance can be a problem if the crews do not make a conscious effort to do it everyday they are working.  Crews have to hit the ground running the first day, because you only have two days in a cycle to get everything done.  Some departments stated that it was not uncommon to work until 6 or 7 pm to finish projects.  Another impact that this schedule has is, if you miss the employee when he goes on a four day it can be hard to get in touch with them.  You can also lose your customer service influence if employees are at home and not supporting the events going on in your city.  The department has to be aware of this possibility and the employees have to be aware also, so as not to let this happen over time.


The benefits of the 48/96-work schedule were apparent across the board.  This change was a no cost move by the department for the City due to our FLSA status.  The employees working the schedule were all very happy with it.  Half Moon Bay FD became assimilated into this work schedule in about 60 days.  All the departments felt that a trial basis of the work schedule was important.  It gives the City and the Union a way to get out if the need arises.  All the personnel who were against going to this schedule in the beginning have changed their opinion to support for it.  The fire departments and cities have found this work schedule a valuable tool in recruiting and retention of employees. The Cities have reduced the number miles that their employees have to commute, which is a concern they have for employee job satisfaction. 


These are the cities and personnel that we talked to.


Half Moon Bay FD          Operations Chief Jolley

Manhattan Beach FD      Training B/C Shuck

Burlingame FD                  Chief Dornell

Sausalito FD                      Training Captain Glockner

Hillsborough FD                Chief Constantino

South Pasadena FD          Training Chief Guiral

Albuquerque FD                Training Chief Montoya

El Segundo FD                   Chief Smith

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© Greg Briggs 2012