1. #1
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    Default Is shift work too easy??

    When someone responds in a demeaning way when we describe our work shift how do you respond? I recently responded to a neighbor after her questions about shift work. Describing the basics of a 24/48 hr shift. Her parting words were "so that's the scam". Didn't have time to give her a well deserved response to this unfortunate common held belief that we firefighters got it made with our schedule.
    So my question is does anyone have a link to a one page explanation (without the romantics) of the facts of the demanding nature of our work? I could work on it but why re-invent the wheel, I am sure many have done it more succinctly than I can. Thanks.

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    Well, I'll tell ya...

    There are places where it is a scam. I won't name names, but some paid crews just go over their equipment first thing then fart around all day, eating meals out in restaurants and whatnot. No pre-planning, no inspections, and actually very few runs.

    Just tell her what you do all day--how many power tools are you responsible for? SCBA's? Spare bottles? What about EMS equipment/AED's, etc? Do you have to test hydrants, do inspections, conduct pre-plans, do fire prevention education?

    Just lay it out, and remind her that at a moment's notice, you might have to go save her life or her home. (I believe it was Gonzo who said, "We're not paid for what we do, we're paid for what we're ready to do.")

    I get irritated at people like this. If you are paid to be on duty, they want you to be so tied up with busy work that you probably couldn't break free to go to a fire anyway, but if you're volunteer, they want a faster response ("Why don't we have paid firefighters in this town?").

    Don't knock yourself out with her. There's no helping some people.
    Broadly speaking, people will find a way to complain no matter what you do, because people are natural experts at everybody else's job.
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    Default Re: Is shift work too easy??

    Originally posted by floridaff
    When someone responds in a demeaning way when we describe our work shift how do you respond? I recently responded to a neighbor after her questions about shift work. Describing the basics of a 24/48 hr shift. Her parting words were "so that's the scam". Didn't have time to give her a well deserved response to this unfortunate common held belief that we firefighters got it made with our schedule.
    So my question is does anyone have a link to a one page explanation (without the romantics) of the facts of the demanding nature of our work? I could work on it but why re-invent the wheel, I am sure many have done it more succinctly than I can. Thanks.
    Ask her to tell you about the last time she worked on Christmas or missed her kids birthdays.

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    I know this isn't what you are looking for, but hell yeah it's a scam. where else could you get paid to sleep? ok, maybe in EMS, but that's about it. most places would fire you for taking a nap while getting paid. i would much rather work ANY job for 24 hours (and get paid to sleep for 8 of them), especially if not all my awake time is spent on calls, and then get 2 days off to do whatever I wanted. and you know what, firefighters do have it made in this regard.

    and when members of the public say you got it made, tell them about that call at 3am where you had to carry a 400 lb man down the 4 flights of stairs with the broken elavator. or the fact that you were up till 4am on a structure fire. or how they get to see their wife/husband/boyfriend/signifigant other every night, and can have dinner with them, and cuddle up with them every night. and how you get to see yours maybe every other day, and cuddling up with your fellow firefighters is frowned upon while you are on shift . or you can tell them "As long as I'm not doing anything, no one needs help. If my engine is rolling, someone is in trouble. would you rather have everything be good in (insert your town here), or have people calling for help every 10 minutes?) You can also say you work 48 hours a week, and sometimes even 72, versus the standard 40 hour work week. and most will have side jobs as well, because firefighters historically don't get paid well enough to work just one job.
    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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    OK, you guys aren't making this to easy for me I can tell. Nothing wrong with a good discussion. So maybe some firefighters have it made, it's a matter of you perspective and experience. I known of members of my department that got hired so young that they never worked a day job in their life. I did have the experience of working a day job for a number of years and I experienced the 8-5 routine. When I got on the FD I loved the time off and still do. With that said it ain't a cake walk though. Try spending your entire career getting way less than optimal rest one day out of three. Who can go home and just catch up on their missed rest time? I know I don't get more than 3-4 hours of sleep on the average every shift night and I don't work at a very busy station. We generally don't sleep/rest soundly waiting for a call, every call will probably average about 30-60 minutes, unless it's a false alarm with a quick turn around. We know it's stressful on the body and mind to go from rest to full output doing the night, it's not healthy to go through the ups and downs that we do during the night. I understand firefighters have one on the highest risk of cardiovascular disease for a number of reasons and working a 24 is one of them for the above mentioned reason. Next woman that comments that the schedule is easy Iíll ask her how she liked the first 6 months of having a new baby at home. Didnít get much rest did you? How would you like to do that every third day for the next 30 years?

    I work for a smaller department nestled in a moderately large county. Our work day consists of equipment check out, briefings, equipment maintenance, hydrant maintenance, pre-planning, company inspections, training, physical fitness, running calls, training, running calls, CME and Fire training, public relations details, station tours, last minute details, internal crisis management, etc. In my roll as D/C I get to set up and monitor the daily work schedule, monitor and run calls, EMS administration, payroll maintenance, set up and monitor many of the above mentioned programs, deal with personnel issues, set up staffing, do QA on EMS calls, pre-plan for equipment needs, Infection control training and maintenance, ...

    So how easy is it to deal with sick or dying people, distraught family members, structure fires, hazardous materials incidents, community crisisís, on a daily basis? Sure we get clinical and cynical. Sure we get some down times. We are not overpaid for the acute risks we take on a daily basis, the long term risks we have over a careers, the training and education we are required to acquire and maintain, the sacrifices we make being away from out families, ... The latest crisis fresh in allot of our memories is Hurricane Preparation.. We firefighters generally have to leave out family and homes way before the storm is coming to our area and then we usually spend extended periods on the job.

    That is a start but what I was really looking for was a short summary, without the burning babies fallacies, that I could hand to someone with an attitude about Firefighters and how we got it so easy. I know it could be allot worse. We could be in corporate America, working for 16 hrs a day, trying to sell crap people don't need, have no retirement benefits, have poor sick time or vacation benefits, no job security, etc. I am a realist and we do have it good in many ways. But it isn't a scam in my opinion, it's a demanding and honorable profession.

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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    I know this isn't what you are looking for, but hell yeah it's a scam. where else could you get paid to sleep?
    I beg to differ!!!! I know of one local car manufacturing plant we go to for fire suppression system training and other types of training. Those guys bring in cots to sleep on!!!! And their bosses can't do a thing about it. And I guarntee they are making at least double if not triple what I make an hour!!!! The Plant name is 2 letters
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    Its easy for me, as I work for a busy urban department. I simply tell them that I take about 15 runs a day, meaning about a run every hour and a half, meaning I'm probably getting up 3-4 times a night..

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    Hey Florida, I think you got your one-page rebuttal there on your second post. Excellent points.

    I like George's answer too.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Default Very quickly...

    I have a good sized answer for this. But right now, tell
    the lady- "Hey, sometimes we are up all night, enduring
    freezing from the cold, getting other people's blood on us
    or fighting the vegitation fires for 72 hours striaght."

    Or say- "Can I please have your phone number? Next time I
    get up at 3AM, I will call you at home to get out of bed
    as well."

    -Bou
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 09-23-2004 at 10:17 PM.

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    This person obviously does not care what it is we are doing, or are prepared to do for her. You cannot get through with explanations of what we are expected to do on a daily basis.
    You can, however, explain to her why we work the 24/48 shift, and that is to save the taxpayer money. A simple math explanation: 168 hours in a 7 day week. If we worked 40 hour weeks, you must have 4 shifts, and pay 8 hours O/T every week. With the 24/48 schedule, we provide 24/7/365 service with 3 shifts. "Just trying to save your tax dollars, ma'am." Then reassure her that she should call us if she needs us, and we'll be right there, no matter what the time of day,or day of the week.

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    Default Please note-

    Originally posted by LFD2203
    You can, however, explain to her why we work the 24/48 shift
    Please note- Not everyone works the 24/48 hour shift. There
    are different versions across the nation. Some work the 3/4
    schedule others may work the 2/4. Most federal FDs work the
    1-1 for 6, then a 3 day.

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    Default

    original poster works 24/48

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    Talking Do What?...............

    Originally posted by DrParasite
    where else could you get paid to sleep? ok, maybe in EMS, but that's about it.
    You ARE kidding, Right? Sleep? EMS?? Not in my world.
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    Ok, be careful of what you say about this type of schedule. Let me explain something first before you fly off the handle here.

    When firefighters work 24 hour shifts they have to eat and sleep there. No one can expect to be awake and alert for that long of a time. No one can expect someone to not eat during that time. Also, while working a 24 hour shift, what most people don't realize is that you cannot leave. You have to live on the edge and be ready for anything at a moments notice. You could also be up all night. Your only sleep for the day might be had at 2pm in the afternoon. You might handle 1 call all shift, or 101 calls that shift. Most people don't realize this at all.

    Yes, I believe that during normal business hours, 7am-5pm Monday-Friday, firefighters at the station should be doing training, cleaning, maintenance, inspections, public education, etc. After 5pm, the time spent is up to the firefighter. If they want to sleep, eat, study, work on a project, jog or go for a walk, whatever, they can do that as long as they report for the engine when it goes.

    The next time those people start bitching about the money spent or how "lazy" a firefighter is, or "how easy it would be to work that shift" they should stop in and take a ride along sometime and just see how hard it really is. Yeah, they might catch a light day, but they would still get a taste of it.

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    I bet the taxpaying citizen was at least half way joking with her comment, but when you see how many days off some Departments have it is not hard to see where folks can get the opinion either. What other job has the oppertunity to start racking up OT while still in the rack? Fire Fighting is just like any career when it comes to compensation, some shops work so hard that they are underpaid for the going salery, others work so lightly that they are essentially overpaid, life is not fair, but that is how it is.

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    I see a simple question got turned into this. Well I am going to add to the fire for one i am ready to snap between the fire departmnet and my second job. I don't understand why majority of FF's complain that that do not get paid enough. Why don't we stop grabbing our ankles and taking in the you know what, and stand up for ourselves and demand more money. No I don't expect to be a millionaire from being a ff. BUT i do expect to make a decent living. How many other CAREERS out there don't pay enough for someone to live??? I am a member of an ISO class one fire deparment and I don't make enough to support myself or even think about having a family. I went over a week with 84 cents how do they expect me to eat??? Our chiefs response to us asking for more money is..."you don't like it there is the door" yeah thanks for the support there chief. You know why FF's don't make more money?? Because the public Thinks we have it made. They don't know the only people that knows is us and our families the ones that have to suffer with us the 48 - 72 hours a week we are away from them to be firefighters then the 20-40 hours more a week for our second job. What we need to do is stop with this "well historically FF's don't make very much money" and change history like everyone else does. What would a city do if the firefighters striked and there was no fire protection? I think they would listen. Or maybe we EDUCATED the public and the cities that we work for and make it known how hard we actually work then maybe we will see changes. But till we stand up for ourselves we mind as well bend over and grab our ankles.

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    My career department used to have an old administrative assistant who would walk through the day-room during lunchtime (if we were there, and not eating we were kicked back in the chair for a "safety nap".) she would scoff at us and make every attempt to make her presence known. She didn't like us doing that on the clock. We asked her if she would like us to call her on her telephone everytime we got out of bed at night and went to a call. Needless to say, she never gave in to out urgings.
    I've quoted Capt. Gonz many times telling people, I'm not paid for what I do, I'm paid for what I may have to do.
    When people tell you it is easy, ask them how many hours of sleep do they get before going to work?
    Sure, I may get a good nights rest at home the night before a firehouse night, but then I go to work, maybe kick around all day with the usual inspections, Pub Ed, education and PT. But then I work calls all night long. Best case situation for me, I get 2-3 hours sleep before I am up and going to my next job for 8-12 hours. Then home for 6-10 and back to work (I have an hour commute to the firehouse).
    Besides, the department I work for last invested in beds back in the early 1900's I think. They feel like they are stuffed with straw and have whoopee cushions (Not me!) and all sorts of little noise makers planted in them. My bed at the firehouse is horrible!!!

    BUT! I love my job with a passion and do not want to do anything else for a career ever again! I'll take the sleepless nights, low pay and bitching from citizens to do what I do...

    *Mark
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    I always say, "why don't you apply?"

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    Good discussion. HA HA and right on to some of those responses. I got maybe 3-4 hrs last night and now getting ready to go back in a few hours to get ready for Hurricane Jeanne.
    So hasn't anyone seen a one pager or a wallet card that lays it out in a nutshell how we got it sooooo good? I have seen them out there just can't find them now. Some FF poet to sum it up for the non believers

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    Default Tell them...

    Please remember what you said when were up for 24-72 hours
    straight fighting a wildland fire, getting smoke in our eyes,
    lungs, fighting the rattlesnakes, bugs, burns and sleeping
    in the dirt.




    Ok, so this Captain is in the grass. You get the idea.

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    Originally posted by floridaff
    Good discussion. HA HA and right on to some of those responses. I got maybe 3-4 hrs last night and now getting ready to go back in a few hours to get ready for Hurricane Jeanne.
    So hasn't anyone seen a one pager or a wallet card that lays it out in a nutshell how we got it sooooo good? I have seen them out there just can't find them now. Some FF poet to sum it up for the non believers
    "The Fireman's Prayer" is a good start. That should put it in perspective enough for anyone.

    I haven't seen any other poem or anything else that will satisfy everyone. For us, we have great public support and usually just explain that yes we only work 10 days a month but... same as other responses here, and then explain training, schooling, everything else that we have to know and do to stay ready for anything, since we get called for everything.

    Stay safe in FL... you guys sure have got the shaft this year storm wise.
    FTM-PTB-RFB
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    My response...

    Sure, there are perks to our job... but why not? When you call, we come -- regardless of what we're doing or the time of day. You may work all day selling insurance or teaching school or doing any number of important jobs, but they don't call you at 3 a.m. and tell you to get to work within 60 seconds. We're ready to go... even when we've just taken the first bite of a delicious meal. Even when we're wet, naked and in the shower. And, yes, even when on The Throne. For whatever reason you need us... we drop what we're doing to take care of you.

    Two seconds before the biggest fire in city history... no one knew it was about to happen. When it comes to emergencies, our work day isn't mapped out. We don't show up at 0700 and pencil in a fire for the afternoon and a couple of medicals before bed. We're on duty to respond to events that have happened before and will happen again just in case they happen today.

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    Originally posted by mark440
    administrative assistant who would walk through the day-room during lunchtime (if we were there, and not eating we were kicked back in the chair for a "safety nap".) she would scoff at us and make every attempt to make her presence known. She didn't like us doing that on the clock. We asked her if she would like us to call her on her telephone everytime we got out of bed at night and went to a call.
    *Mark
    We did call the dept. secretary after she complained about us sleeping. She really loved getting a call on her phone at 2am from us responding to a call. It only took 2 shifts of that and she has never said a word since.
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    Seems we just can't win, if you are courteous and stay off the siren after 10pm then people say we get paid to sleep, if you use the siren they complain we woke them up. Notice how many threads are firefighters looking for advice on the community complaning about some perceived inconvieniance (sirens to call volunteers, outside PA speakers, blocking traffic etc) or people complaining we are a drain on society just a step above welfare (getting paid to wash trucks, "sleep", go grocery shopping etc), I really love hearing stories about Volunteers getting abuse about working for their salaries (HELLO they're Volunteers they don't get paid!!!!!).

    But you know at least the public usually likes us even if they think we have an easy gig, I mean look at the PD, there are alot of people who hate them just for doing their job.

    So I guess if I have to pick between being seen as a lazy tax sucking goof off or a Fascist bully (with a donut habit) I'll stick with the fire dept's image.

    Would be nice if the public actually took the time to learn what Public servents (and I include fire, PD, teachers, DMV, road crews etc) actually do instead of just calling us names and giving attitude.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 09-27-2004 at 05:01 PM.

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    Originally posted by NonSurfinCaFF
    Would be nice if the public actually took the time to learn what Public servents (and I include fire, PD, teachers, DMV, road crews etc) actually do instead of just calling us names and giving attitude.
    I used to find it extremely frustrating when folks had no clue about what firefighters do... But then it hit me. I don't really understand anyone else's job! I don't know much about selling insurance or being a dentist or teaching school or delivering the mail. So why on earth should I expect people to understand what I do for a living?

    Now, I just do my best to educate folks at every single opportunity I get. I'm not sure I'm changing the world... but if I enlighten just one person, that's one more person who understands us that didn't use to. I'll take that.

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