1. #1
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    Default Vacation Requests need ideas...

    I've been with my dept for about 9 years. We are a small combination dept with 10 paid/career staff and about 20 volunteers. For the last 3 years it has been a nightmare to find vacation coverage....This is the process in order to have my vacation approved. I must find my own coverage first. I must contact my peers myself and ask them...." Hey I'am taking Aug 5th off can u cover?" .. the typical response is "ohh ill get back to you"... and so forth... this request is months in advance...not weeks or days. This is the typical answer i get ..eventully Aug 5th is here and gone and guess what no coveage.

    It's is obvious I don't have the authority to enforce mandatory OT or force my peers to work for me. You may ask do I work for them yes I'am a OT who#e

    I'am just looking for ideas for solutions... Some of my ideas are the following.

    Mandatory OT

    All Vacation requests must be submitted my certain date.

    Hire back volunteers

    Submit Vacations by Seniority.

    Management is mute on this issue. Our union is worthless i get the impression that no one wants to work when its not convenient for them...

    Thank you for your ideas...

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    Not sure who your supervisor is (Lt, BC, Chief, ETC) but it would be best to give them the power. I have worked for 2 different contracts and they both were different. The first one had 6 FT medics and a bunch of POCs. We run 2 stations 1 FT medic and 1 POC medic or B. Whenever a FTer had vacation time or wanted a day off they just contacted any of the full-timers or POCs that were able to work back part-time for the contract. While this works, it also creates a problem of the FT employees not always getting the first shot at OT.
    The current contract I work for all we do is submit paperwork to the EMS BC requesting vacation time off and he does the work to fill it. They go down an OT list(of all 18 FT medics) and call each one...you get 30 mins to call back and say yay or nay. If you say no or take the OT, you get moved to the bottom of the list. If noone will fill it there is no forced OT. There is also a seperate force back list for each shift. If you call in "sick" on one of those days that you don't get, you will get suspended for a few shifts. If we want to do trades, then we contact other full time employees and then submit the paperwork when we have someone willing to work. We have to re-pay trades within 2 weeks before or after the trade, and we have to submit vacation time at least 2 weeks in advance. I don't think we've ever hired back volunteers for FT contract slots.

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    We have a very long and detailed leave and vacation policy, but our department is also 525 people with a minimum on-duty staffing of 115, so our situation does differ from yours quite a bit.

    However, if you wanted to look specifically at the vacation policy, we have to submit a vacation request no less than 60 days in advance. You get a confirmation back from the District Chief (who oversees the BC's) that your request has been approved, and from that point on, you're good to go. It's the responsibility of the DC and BC's to ensure that each station and apparatus have the proper staffing on the days that you're sitting in the tropics sipping drinks with little umbrella's in them.

    For us, vacations and just a "day off" are two completely different things. If you want to talk about just a regular day off in our department, it's quite a bit more complicated, but EXTREMELY fair. We're known for having the most open and fair leave policy of any career department in our area. I can give you a Cliff's Notes version if you'd like.

    The baseline is this: once your time off is submitted and approved by the DC or BC, then it's up to them to find your coverage...which rarely involves hiring OT.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktmguy68 View Post
    I've been with my dept for about 9 years. We are a small combination dept with 10 paid/career staff and about 20 volunteers. For the last 3 years it has been a nightmare to find vacation coverage....This is the process in order to have my vacation approved. I must find my own coverage first. I must contact my peers myself and ask them...." Hey I'am taking Aug 5th off can u cover?" .. the typical response is "ohh ill get back to you"... and so forth... this request is months in advance...not weeks or days. This is the typical answer i get ..eventully Aug 5th is here and gone and guess what no coveage.

    It's is obvious I don't have the authority to enforce mandatory OT or force my peers to work for me. You may ask do I work for them yes I'am a OT who#e

    I'am just looking for ideas for solutions... Some of my ideas are the following.

    Mandatory OT

    All Vacation requests must be submitted my certain date.

    Hire back volunteers

    Submit Vacations by Seniority.

    Management is mute on this issue. Our union is worthless i get the impression that no one wants to work when its not convenient for them...

    Thank you for your ideas...
    I am confused- When you say "finding your own coverage" are you referring to a shift exchange or a mutual swap?? If so, then yes, you are responsible for finding someone to work for you, and then obviously re-paying them their time.

    Or, are you referring to taking vacation days, or time that you have acrued according to contract or some sort of labor agreement? If they are charging YOU with finding coverage, this is just plain WRONG. I would go to the union and ask that some sort of written policy be negotiated with management. If the union won't do it, approach management and see if they will initiate bargaining.

    Either way, if you have time acrued, want to use it, but you cannot (because YOU are being forced to find your own coverage and no one will cover you) I would file a grievance based on the fact that you can't take the time that is due to you. Or, you could force the union's hand (if they refuse to bargain a policy) and file an Unfair Labor Practice claim, which would basically force the Union and Management to the table to come up with a policy.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    For us we will out a time off request and it goes to the operations chief. If approved you have your day off and the chief finds coverage or runs the crew a man short as long we are above minimum staffing.

    Trade time is trade time. The only thing is that a form is filled out so that operations knows who is to be there.

    There is certain people I will not trade with because getting them to pay you back is a pain.

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    Sorry for the confusion.... I'am referring to Vacation days...not trades

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    Regarding the unfair labor practice claim, would this be directed to the union or management or both. would you recommend a log of dates and times when my vacation was not covered?

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    If this is the way your agency does it, and they have a policy stating that, then you are screwed until the policy is changed. I don't know what state you're in, but the way to change that policy is to do it through negotiations if you have that option.

    If your Local agreed to this policy, and/or won't work to change it, then they are a bunch of tools that have no business being union officers. I have no clue how you negotiate a vacation policy, and let it come to this.

    I would caution against filing a ULP on your own, against labor and/or management, until that is the only option. Even then, I'd think long and hard before making enemies on both sides of the labor/management table.
    Last edited by sfd1992; 01-18-2011 at 12:32 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfd1992 View Post
    If this is the way your agency does it, and they have a policy stating that, then you are screwed until the policy is changed. I don't know what state you're in, but the way to change that policy is to do it through negotiations if you have that option. Something I totally forgot to mention and should have. Do you currently have a negotiated policy in writing now, or is it covered in your written contract, and if so, what does it state?

    If your Local agreed to this policy, and/or won't work to change it, then they are a bunch of tools that have no business being union officers. I have no clue how you negotiate a vacation policy, and let it come to this.

    I would caution against filing a ULP on your own, against labor and/or management, until that is the only option. Even then, I'd think long and hard before making enemies on both sides of the labor/management table.
    I agree. I was a Shop Steward in a former life, and would get ****ed if one of my guys went over our heads (which by the way can be done, you do not have to have the union file a ULP or a Grievance for you, they can be done on your own....) but then again I would never imagine not backing up someone on something like this. Our Vacations and days off were all covered under our contract, as were shift exchanges. But hey, if the Union wont go to bat for you, like I said....Force them to the table with a ULP. I guarantee you'll make enemies on both sides, but you have the potential to get something important done.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Sounds like my combo department is similar with 8 paid staff, about 55 firefighters and another 35 support members, dispatchers and juniors. Our career personnel are not unionized.

    In my department the career members are ineligible,e for overtime and cannot work beyond their scheduled shifts with the exception of extreme weather situations such as ice storms, significant snow or tornadoes. And even then it's unusual to work a career member beyond thier scheduled shifts.

    All sick days, days off and personal days are covered by qualified volunteers. In order to work a cover 24-hour shift, they must be FFI, have an EMS cert and be a qualified driver.

    We simply submit our time off requests to the Deputy Chief, he posts the opening on the board, and a qualified volunteer will tell the DC he wants it.

    A non-driver can take the shift if a driver does not ask for it. Now that we have the 2nd shift firefighter/operator having that 4th driver is no longer a significant issue.

    We also use qualified volunteers for a M-F dayshift, as well as 2 dayshifts on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as Holidays to cover the DC and myself. Personnel for dayshifts do not need FFI, but must have completed thier skills checklist and be off probabtion.

    Pay is based on a base rate plus incentive pay (FFI, FFII, Driver/Operator, EMT, paramedic), longevity increases and rank pay.

    The system of using our volunteers for daytime and shift cover works extremly well in our system.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 01-20-2011 at 09:43 AM.

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    For the sake of discussion I will call our situation a "Combo" Dept even though it's a lot more complex than that.


    Where I work (P/T); we have 18 Uniformed F/T, 23 P/T, and somewhere around 150 Volunteers in a county wide system.

    The career division staffs 3 ALS Ambulances 12.5 X 5 (05:30 to 18:00 M-F), 1 ALS Ambulance 24X7, and 1 ALS Shift Supervisor in an ALS Response unit 24X7. This gives us a daily staffing of 9 M-F and 3 Nights & Weekends with volunteers filling coverage.

    All the F/T staff have a fixed work schedule and there are ALWAYS empty slots in the Daylight Only schedule by design. These normally open slots, openings due to training, illness, or vacation are all offered to the P/T staff first.

    All P/T staff have to submit the days they are available to work in a given month by the 10th of the previous month. The scheduling Capt. will then fill any open shifts in the schedule based on P/T availability. If he has any shifts left uncovered he will e-mail all P/T staff and then it's first come - first served". If no takers from the P/T staff then he will e-mail the F/T staff and offer the shift as overtime; again first come - first served.

    In the extreme case that a shift is still not filled then the Shift Supervisor (Capt.) for that day will bump back down to the truck.

    Now if a F/T person decides they want / need a shift (or part of a shift) off after the schedule is made then they will usually try to find coverage for themselves first then turn it over to the scheduling Capt.

    Due to my F/T job - I can only work nights / weekends so that relegates me to the one 24 hour station. All the guys there know my P/T opportunities are limited so they are great about giving me "first dibs" when they need off.

    Side note - all of our P/T staff are either from our own volunteer ranks or are F/T career at surrounding dept's. Perhaps your own suggestion of "Hire back volunteers" might be the best place to start.


    I agree with others who have said it sucks if you are missing out on your vacation time and you should definitely continue to pursue a new/better solution to the problem. Wish you the best of luck.
    Last edited by N2DFire; 01-20-2011 at 08:52 AM.
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