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  1. #1
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    Default dispatcher shifts

    I am the new Director of a small comm. center. during my first meeting with staff members the majority of them requested fixed shifts instead of rotating. Can anybody discuss advantages and disadvantages of fixed shifts? I can see both sides of the argument, but would like some feedback from others. What has been your experience.

    Tim McMenamin


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    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    I, personally, don't like fixed shifts because when you are lower on the totem pole, you get stuck working every weekend. Then again, some people are just happy knowing they have every Tuesday and Wednesday (or whatever) off.

    We work 4 days, then have 2 off, 8 hr. shifts. The downside to that is paychecks because you don't have all 80 hour pays every two weeks. To combat this, some places either a)pay 80 hr pays, then you are required to work a "payback" day every once in awhile, so you lose a day off. b)make the employees come in/hang over a certain amount of time on order to make-up for the extra time.

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    Forum Member DualReverse's Avatar
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    I actually prefer the fixes shifts. Day or night, it allows you to form some semblance of a routine in your life. I worked two years of rotating, and three years of fixed shifts. My fixed shifts have been overnights, 1900-0700, and I'm fine with them. I guess the best thing about it is, like I said, you get to have some order in your life. Even if you're living opposite while working overnights, you can do it on a routine, instead of killing yourself trying to slide back and forth...Perhaps working nights will energize the newbies to work harder.
    Remember KQJ943

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    Forum Member MrJim911's Avatar
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    If I were you I would try to accomodate everyone a little. Because you will find out, if you haven't already, you can't make them all happy.

    How about rotating every 3 months? (quarterly) At my agency we bid by seniority. So senior people, if they bid for the same shift all year, will have fixed shifts, but have the option of picking a different shift.

  5. #5
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    It depends upon your definition of "fixed" shfits. For example, our personnel work either nights or days, so there is no rotating that can cause havoc with your body clock. However, the schedule we use allows for every other weekend off as a three day, so your days off change every week. Everyone gets a fair shot at weekend days off, and they get them in all seasons. One of the most common complaints about some rotating day off schedules is that they take months to cycle between weekends off, and you can literally go an entire season working every Saturday and Sunday.

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    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BarryTFurey
    It depends upon your definition of "fixed" shfits. For example, our personnel work either nights or days, so there is no rotating that can cause havoc with your body clock. However, the schedule we use allows for every other weekend off as a three day, so your days off change every week. Everyone gets a fair shot at weekend days off, and they get them in all seasons. One of the most common complaints about some rotating day off schedules is that they take months to cycle between weekends off, and you can literally go an entire season working every Saturday and Sunday.
    Barry, what kind of shift do you work? I assume 12 hour days, but is it 3 on and 3 off?

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    I work for fire/rescue dispatch center for 3 years, We work 2 on / 2 off, 12 hr shifts. 1st shift from 0600-1800, 2nd 1800-0600. We rotate shifts every 4 months. Everyone here (12 employees) like this schedule. Its not bad, when you look at it, you have 1 full weekend off a month, and you work one full weekend a month, the other 2 are either a Fri / Sat off or Sun / Mon off. We do do the seniority thing but not to much on the schedule to give every one a fair oppurtunity to rotate nights and days.

  8. #8
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    No matter what shift hours are you can swing it. We have 3 shifts of 8 hours. 5 on 2 off. We switch 3 times a year (due to our local University's semesters) A member can only sign up for a shift twice in a row then must pick another. This way you dont have people getting use to the same old thing and also so the less than senior folk can get a good shift everyknow and again. As far as days off this is still up to the senior folk but that can be hcanged also.
    Anthony Tryon
    FF/EMT-B
    Crabbs Prairie VFD
    Huntsville, Tx

  9. #9
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    we did a combination of both. fixed shifts were ideal, but we couldn't find people to work friday night, saturday day and night, and sunday day. so we picked shifts by seniority, and set up a rotation for the shifts that no one wanted. we had fixed shifts of about 8 hours each.

    btw, i would definetly be in favor of fixed shifts. this way you always know when you are working. much easier on people who are going to school/college/grad school, taking CEU courses, etc. it's also easier for management to gauge how many hours all the employees a will be working week after week.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 08-12-2004 at 10:20 AM.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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  10. #10
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    We work a 6 on, 4 off system which equates to 58 hours duty of two dayshifts (0700-1700), two lates (1400-0000) and two nights (2200-0700), on a 10 week pattern which gives a full "weekend" off every 5 weeks. It'sbeen in place for a year now and with some fine tuning (there are 25 people per shift), seems to be working OK.

    Ifyou are running a smaller comms/dispatch centre, it may work even better.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

  11. #11
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    Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. I've been out of pocket at a conference.... Our schedule is as follows for a two week period:

    Work Sat Sun Mon Off Tue Wed Work Thurs Fri
    Off Sat Sun Mon Work Tue Wed Off Thurs Fri

    After which the cycle repeats (12 hour days)

  12. #12
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    I'll give you our dispatch schedule. It works great for us, gives everyone every other complete weekend off and is fair to everyone. Seniority is what decides whose on what shift, basically the ones with the most time decides what shift they want first.

    First we divide our shifts:

    A1,B1,A2,B2,A3,B3...so on

    When A1 is working, B1 is off

    The schedule works like this:
    Payperiod ends on Sun night, begins on Monday Morning.

    One week you work 3-13hr20min shifts, next week 4-10s.

    So my shift would look like this:
    S
    M
    T
    W 1740-0700
    T
    F 1740-0700
    Sat 1740-0700
    S
    M 2100-0700
    T 2100-0700
    W
    T 2100-0700
    F 2100-0700
    S

    This schedule works great for us. You get off everyday at the same time, your start time just changes. You also only work 15 days a month compared to a regular 8 hr day were you work over 20 days a month. Now the only downside is our payperiod ends on the 1st and 15th. One payperiod you are going to end with less than 80 hours the next you will have 90 hours. To balance this we have bi-monthly paychecks instead of every two weeks. But every check is 86.67 hrs which equals your yearly hour total if you were getting paid every 2 weeks. It balances out that way. We also schedule mandatory overtime days in case more than one person calls in sick. We overlap some of the shifts to cover peak times.

    Hope this helps with setting up your new schedule.

  13. #13
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    WOW .........that is different ......... em and '77 work at the same place and I dont really mind our schedule, personally I would not mind the 7-3 , 3 til 2300 and then 2300-0700..........but I like the 4 on 2 off.
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  14. #14
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    here in our little center we only have 5 disptachers and we have 3 shifts the chief dispatcher works m-f 7-3 i work w-sun 7-3 ( and cover other shifts when vacation come up) then we have tues-saturday 3-11 and then sat- wendsis the midnight shift and we have 1 person that covers the 2 days on evening and 2 night on midngihts and does double coverage on tuesdays it seems to work out here but we still need more people.

  15. #15
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    I'll throw something a bit different into the mix. Our center has 22 dispatch positions and 5 supervisors. We all bid our shifts in October for the following year, so have the same shift all year. We use the 0700-1500/1500-2300/2300-0700 schedule, and work a 5-2/5-3 work week. This rotates us through the week on a 15 week schedule. So, once you have a Saturday off, you will have 5 of them in a row (Thu/Fri/Sat; Fri/Sat; Fri/Sat/Sun; Sat/Sun; Sat/Sun/Mon). 9 dispatchers and 3 supervisors have fixed shifts; 4 dispatchers float to different shifts (usually no more than 2 in a week); the other dispatchers are primarily on a single shift, but may be scheduled for another as needed; the remaining 2 supervisors relieve 1st & 2nd or 2nd & 3rd shifts.
    We are paid every other week, and our pay is prorated on the basis of 37.5 hours per week, which is how this schedule plays out over the course of a year. (Of course, 37.5 hrs is full time.)
    Looks like there are lots of schedule possibilities out there. As far as we are concerned, this works well. Most of us can predict which shifts various people will be taking, and the supervisors haven't had any significant changes in several years. I usually have my schedule planned out through the next year! (I just don't know whether I'll be working 1st or 2nd shift!)
    Joe O'Keefe

  16. #16
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    Default Shifts

    I work for a Sheriffs Office in Wisconsin, and we have a rotating shift. 4 on 2 off. And once your on your rotating shift, feasibly, it could be the shift you stay on for the rest of your career! Due to union issues, unless there is a new position created, or someone vacates a spot, your pretty much stuck where your at. And positions are based on seniority. Period. One of my partners has been on the same day shift for 12 years! Same schedule!

    At our department, a fixed shift would not work, due to everyone wanting to have weekends off at one point or another. We looked at switching our schedules about a year ago. 12, 10, 8 hour shift... 6X3, 8X4..da da da.. Seasoned dispatchers dont want to change and whatever the young guys wanted, it didnt matter... So, in ending...It just depends what the needs and attitudes of your comm. center's are.

  17. #17
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    Talking Dispatcher Shifts

    I have worked as a public Safety dispatcher for 19 years now. I stared at a smalltown police department where we worked rotating shifts (7) 7-3's 2 days off (6) 11=7's 4 days off then (7) 3-11's 1 day off. This really sucked! Usually you could count on the phone ringing on your long break,asking you to come to work because some idiot would call off sick and you would lose your long break.

    I since left that department and work for a county fire/ems dispatch center in which we work 2 10 hour days 2 14 hour nights and 4 days off. I would honestly like to see the time be 12 hour days and nights but I will settle for this. As far as I am concerned this is the best type of shift you can have. It cuts down on your sick time,and maybe once in every 4-5 months you might have to come in on your days off to take a training class, I would not give up this shift for anything.

    Gene Tucker
    Citizens Hose Co No 1
    Smyrna,DE

  18. #18
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    bump for the FLSA person
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Shout out to my homies in LaCrosse, WI!!!

    Howzit going down there?

    Anyway, here in Eau Claire, WI at the Eau Claire Emergency Center, we have a schedule basically the same as LaCrosse. We work 5 days, have 2 off, work 5 days and have 3 off. We technically rotate shifts every 28 days but everyone gets to switch with someone so we get the shift we want. Some do 2 months of mids and a month of days, some do straight mids or straight afternoons or days all year so we get to stay happy.

    We work 8.25 hours a day. The ".25" is the "briefing" you get. Basically it's standing around watching the clock as you line up at the door...

    Sometimes 8.25 hours is too long....can't imagine doing 12 hours as a normal schedule. How would that work for overtime then or when someone calls in sick? Do you force someone to stay for a 16 hour then or force someone on their day off???
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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  20. #20
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    I love working the same shift. If you give me a date in 2010 (unless managment changes it) I could tell you if I would be off or on. I posted my jobs schedule on the other dispatch shift forum so anyone can refer to it. But I have a set group to work with and I get to be with my family at night and every other weekend and I have a set schedule that don't change.
    Jami Snow
    Mount Airy Rescue Squad
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