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    Default Career question: Sleeping , is it a right?

    I recently got upset at a citizen for a middle of the night phone call about fixing an alarm for a call we had earlier.. Actually he was an employee, not a taxpayer. I expressed my anger and mentioned fireman sleeping. Anyways this led to a conversation with guys about sleeping and the public. Some guys think it should be kept secret so the public doesn't get angry at a waste of taxes. We all sleep, and the public knows it. Do you feel that we should keep it secret in efforts to protect it or is it acceptable to talk about it. I personally feel that the public already knows about it, except that guy. My question is about policy in your city, is sleeping ever been threatened, and are you supposed to keep it secret from the public?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimreap99
    I recently got upset at a citizen for a middle of the night phone call about fixing an alarm for a call we had earlier.. Actually he was an employee, not a taxpayer. I expressed my anger and mentioned fireman sleeping. Anyways this led to a conversation with guys about sleeping and the public. Some guys think it should be kept secret so the public doesn't get angry at a waste of taxes. We all sleep, and the public knows it. Do you feel that we should keep it secret in efforts to protect it or is it acceptable to talk about it. I personally feel that the public already knows about it, except that guy. My question is about policy in your city, is sleeping ever been threatened, and are you supposed to keep it secret from the public?

    It should be a non-issue! If you happen to be "resting" and you are sent to do your job what is the complaint??? Resting should have absolutly no effect on your turnout. In my house we are out the door in under a minute regardless of the time of day, regardless of what we are or are not doing when a run comes in.

    Loose lips sink ships....why elaborate? If someone asks if you sleep, simply say "not that often", and end it. Next thing you know, it will be debated to death,throughout the "national" fire service, and the NFPA will invent yet another standard, where departments wont be "in compliance" if they allow it.
    Last edited by MattyJ; 03-07-2006 at 02:36 PM.

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    I think it is akin to breathing being a right.
    "Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself."

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimreap99
    I recently got upset at a citizen for a middle of the night phone call about fixing an alarm for a call we had earlier.. Actually he was an employee, not a taxpayer. I expressed my anger and mentioned fireman sleeping.
    In a job like ours, there are definite perks. We sleep at work. We have big, cushy chairs. We usually eat like kings. Of course, these are all in place because we work for 24 hours at a time and because while we're at the station, there are never any breaks. When the bell rings, we go. However, after a while... Some folks start to think of the perks as part of the job -- as some sort of entitlement. Unfortunately, it sounds like you feel that way about sleep.

    Why were you upset that someone called about a fire department-related issue? Isn't that our job? The fire station doesn't close. We're open 24 hours. That means if folks want to call in the middle of the night, we answer the phone and take care of their problem if we can. I don't see an issue with that.


    Quote Originally Posted by grimreap99
    Some guys think it should be kept secret so the public doesn't get angry at a waste of taxes. We all sleep, and the public knows it. Do you feel that we should keep it secret in efforts to protect it or is it acceptable to talk about it.
    As I understand it, rest time is mandated by federal law for those working 24 hour shifts. Thus, I don't think it's something that has to be kept secret. It is certainly not something that can be taken away from us.

    Also, our job is preparedness. We are supposed to be at the station and at the ready to respond to emergencies in a timely manner. Readiness is more our job than emergency response. Thus, having firefighters on duty at night -- and, thus, asleep -- is not a waste of tax money. It's using tax money for exactly what it should be.

    Finally, when folks make comments about us getting paid to sleep, I'm always quick to point out how often that sleep is interrupted -- often for things that are far from exciting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cozmosis
    In a job like ours, there are definite perks. We sleep at work. We have big, cushy chairs. We usually eat like kings. Of course, these are all in place because we work for 24 hours at a time and because while we're at the station, there are never any breaks. When the bell rings, we go. However, after a while... Some folks start to think of the perks as part of the job -- as some sort of entitlement. Unfortunately, it sounds like you feel that way about sleep.

    Why were you upset that someone called about a fire department-related issue? Isn't that our job? The fire station doesn't close. We're open 24 hours. That means if folks want to call in the middle of the night, we answer the phone and take care of their problem if we can. I don't see an issue with that.



    Coz said it much better than I would have. It was fire related, there was no need to tear the guy's head off.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Educate the public, don't be rude and don't lie to them. We hear the same thing when asked about our shifts. We tell them we work a 56 hour work week 24 hours on and 48 off. If you don't tell them that they assume you do nothing.
    A lot of people we meet assume someone cooks (and buys) for us. Does our housework, and most of the other routine things we do. A well educated public is our strongest ally.
    Anyone who has "worked for a living" and then became a fireman knows we have it good, but most public are supprised at how much we actually do.

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    Let me explain this further. Phone rings, now we just got back from a fire, however the crew on the ladder was sleeping. I answer phone very politely, thinking it was dispatch. Guy says he's fixing an alarm panel that we attended. He's an alarm technician, and before I stated my thoughts I heard what he had to say. He said he called to say that he was finished. You will never get me to not understand servicing the public 24 hours a day. I will be on that truck in less than a minute for anything, regardless of how silly it is. My only point was that I was shocked that this employee didn't find 0400 hours to be a tad off side. I realize now that I should have just kept my mouth shut, and I made a mistake. I screwed up, I know that, but as far as the hush, hush on the sleeping. Let's say I was having a snooze at lunch break and the phone rang, of course I couldn't complain about that. A nap at lunch is a not something the city even allows. They city does however allow me to sleep. Why do I have to be embarrassed about the subject. Citizens have seen countless movies with fireman sleeping, and I just didn't see why I shouldn't have mentioned sleeping to this guy like a few guys at my station said. They were pretty upset that I could possibly give out the trade secret. Why is this such an issue, when the city gave me that bed. Policy clearly states that I am allowed to go to bed at 2100 hrs if I feel like it. Was that silly phone call necessary at 0400 hrs?

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    It may have been a simple matter of a required notification of maintenance made to the wrong number. Most fire codes require that a service person notify the fire department (usually dispatch only) that an alarm system is undergoing service. This is so they don't unnecessarily dispatch for a fire alarm that was activated by the service people. They make the same notification after they're finished working on it, so dispatch'll know that anything coming in is an actual activation rather than someone poking around inside the panel.

    While we all know we're allowed to sleep, don't flog the public with it. That'll just **** some of 'em off, especially when they get smacked with it after calling for what they perceived was a legitimate purpose.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grimreap99
    They city does however allow me to sleep.
    End of story. Your allowed by your city's contract. Someone don't like it, they can go to the city and try to get the contract changed.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADSNWFLD
    Educate the public, don't be rude and don't lie to them. We hear the same thing when asked about our shifts. We tell them we work a 56 hour work week 24 hours on and 48 off. If you don't tell them that they assume you do nothing.
    A lot of people we meet assume someone cooks (and buys) for us. Does our housework, and most of the other routine things we do. A well educated public is our strongest ally.
    Anyone who has "worked for a living" and then became a fireman knows we have it good, but most public are supprised at how much we actually do.
    This hit the nail on the head! Being someone who worked in the corporate world and then entered the fireservice, yes we have it good.

    However, most people are not willing to give up sleeping in their own bed. It's funny, corporate execs. will do it while they travel, they'll do it for 2 months straight, but they can't handle sleeping somewhere else 1 out of every 3 nights for the rest of their career.

    Firefighters do have it good, but the downside is if you're in a busy station getting up 2-3 times a night for the rest of your career, that takes a major toll on the body as well.

    Public education is our best friend...'nuff said...

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    Why does he have the number to the station? Our stations numbers are kept kinda secret a la not listed in the phone book. Have a problem? Call dispatch

    Now, if on that call, you and i meaning your shift, gave the number to the guy and said calls us when your done/got questions, then you opened yourself up. But, I think its a bad idea to give the station number out to the public because who knows who is going to call and for what reason

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    I've heard it explained to the public as:

    "I don't get paid to sleep, but I do get paid while I sleep."

    A subtle difference.
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    Reaper.. you blew this one big time.

    You should have taken the message and then called Fire Alarm, or you could have transferred the call.

    I don't care if it's 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning... engage the brain before opening the yap!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-07-2006 at 07:23 PM.
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    I didn't engage the brain, I know that. Crappy night, grumpy, screwed up. This post is more about thoughts and feelings about sleeping and whether or not we should be secretive about it. As for the number thing, yes he had the number from a piece of paper ordering the apartment building to get the alarm fixed. I'm not arguing the fact that I should have realized what might happen by blowing up. Anyone know about the history in politics with our ability to sleep on the job?

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    Put me on a 40 hour week instead of a 52 and I promise I wont snooze.
    Last edited by MIKEYLIKESIT; 03-07-2006 at 07:26 PM.
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    So what do you do when you give station tours? Hide the beds? Most visitors are impressed when we give station tours and they see that firefighters really do spend the night at the station. It's not a secret. On the contrary, when I was a POC firefighter, visitors were suprised we didn't sleep at the station.

    As for the way your treated the caller, I'm glad to hear that you feel you could have handled the situation better. Look at it from his point of view. He probably was called out of bed to fix the alarm and was calling the number he was given thinking it was probably the fire alarm office (FAO) or a dispatch center. Wherever I've worked, those folks don't get to sleep on duty.

    The key point to remember is that when you are permitted to sleep on duty, you are still on duty. Any call from the public (day or night) should be handled in a professional manner.

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    Not all firefighters get "paid to sleep", I know some places factor "sleep" into the hourly rate. That is how the Fed firefighters in the Department of Defense get paid, they have a reduced hourly rate compared to 40 hour federal employees because they get "paid to sleep", they get paid the same for 56 hours as the 40 hour employees make in 40 hours (roughly 80% of the hourly rate), they do end up making more per pay period though because they work a 72 hour week (53 base hours, 19 OT per week).

    The Fed wildland firefighters work a 40 hour week, however they only get paid 16 hours (in a 24 hour period) regardless of the time away from home unless they are actively fighting fire, it doesn't matter if they are sleeping on the ground with a space blanket and have an MRE for dinner or get a motel. It also applies if they are providing 24 hour coverage in a station, only 16 hours on the clock unless they run a call between 10-6 then only for the hours actually worked.

    The California Department of Forestry factors in "sleep" time, but this is being phased out for their full time people. Seasonals get paid 19 hours out of 24 unless they run a call after midnite then they get the full 24. Full time firefighters work a 72, seasonals work a 96.

    There are still many ambulance companies that pay their employees less than 24 hours for 24 hours on duty (usually 16-22 hours unless they run a call during the "standby" period)

    In the past (1930's ?) many fire departments just paid a set salary, "OT" shifts and such did not provide extra pay, it was just part of the job, firefighters slept on the job because they really did live there part time.


    You would really have to look at your contract to see how you are paid, if there is mention of standby time it is likely "sleeping" is factored into your salary. An easy comparisson would be to look at your cities PD salary, most cities pay similar amounts to PD and the FD but the FD works quite a few more hours, so unless the hourly rate is close I'd guess "sleeping" is factored in.

    As far as the public being upset about it I always liked the idea of offering to call them the next time you get a call at O' dark 30, then continue to call every 5 minutes until you go back to sleep, that usually gets the point across.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 03-07-2006 at 10:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baileydonk
    I've heard it explained to the public as:

    "I don't get paid to sleep, but I do get paid while I sleep."

    A subtle difference.

    Let me take this thought one step further. We're fighting this mut now that can't absolutely stand the fact that we sleep or workout on duty. Just doesn't get it. We tell him, we don't get paid to Sleep, we get paid to RESPOND. Nuff said.

    Rod

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    Just a comment on the station tours. Tours stay with the rigs. Nobody sees living area, kitchen, office, or bedrooms. Everyone pretends we don't even have beds. It drives me nuts to try to hide this from the public. What exactly would make grumpy Bob citizen happy anyways. Should I be mopping a clean floor. The real question is, would Bob rather I was refreshed to try to do my best to save his house or would grumpy Bob rather I was wiped out from being up all night.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grimreap99
    Just a comment on the station tours. Tours stay with the rigs. Nobody sees living area, kitchen, office, or bedrooms. Everyone pretends we don't even have beds. It drives me nuts to try to hide this from the public. What exactly would make grumpy Bob citizen happy anyways. Should I be mopping a clean floor. The real question is, would Bob rather I was refreshed to try to do my best to save his house or would grumpy Bob rather I was wiped out from being up all night.
    Tours of the house are the same here...all they see are the appratus and the poles...we give them the fire safety talk and the johnny gets in his gear and crawls around. They ask where the poles go to and we explain it goes to the living quarters up stairs. If they ask if we have beds we don't lie to them we tell them yes...However we also explain that we rarely get any "rest" as we are up multiple times a night...we never sleep....I get sleep at home...not at work.

    I'll second what MattyJ said...Loose lips sink ships. Civilains don't need to know any more than where the closest fire alarm box is and how to get out of their house or appartment if it is on fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NonSurfinCaFF
    Not all firefighters get "paid to sleep", I know some places factor "sleep" into the hourly rate.
    This is us, essentially. The cops work an 84-hour pay period and we work a 106-hour pay period. Guess what? Our annual pay balances out the same with theirs. The reason given is that we sleep. Of course, they do, too... but it's on a back street in their patrol car.

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    After say 08:06 and the rigs are checked in why not just go make your bed and take a nap? That's what we do.

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    I dont think it should be kept a secret.. BUt its one of those things that we should keep to ourselves, for the **** storm, it MIGHT brew, with unhappy citizens not getting there tax payting dollars worth...

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    Default When we do a tour

    We like to stress the fact that we work in a FireHOUSE for 24 hours (or more) at a time. We explain how are day works and we even show the kids where we cook, watch tv and (GASP) sleep. We get more comments about the big screen and recliners then the beds. I know the ways of the world and understand this approach is not a "one size fits all" but it is no mystery that we sleep when we can. (After 1600 that is ). If John Q. dosent like it, too bad.
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    Ive had people complain about our "perks" too, till they find out that 50 guys in a firehouse pay 30 bucks each to buy a nice TV, not the city. We go for our meal, and people still think the city pays for it. 24 or more hours is taxing on anyone..... you have to sleep.. a few posts up mention the federal stip regarding it. We're only human too..

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