This evening The Washington Post published an editorial on its web site titled, "A shift for the better: New hours for D.C. firefighters". In it, the Post generally supports DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe's plan to do away with the 24-hours on, 72-hours off, four platoon shift currently in place.
Besides echoing Chief Ellerbe's money will be saved, the Post editorial board says for the department to be fully unified, as recommended by the task force that looked into the 2006 death of New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum, firefighters should work the same 12-hour shifts as the civilian EMS force.
The editorial also makes the point, with EMS being bulk of the work load for firefighters, the department needs to move away from 24-hour shifts to reduce errors, similar to the trend of hospitals shortening shifts for interns.
Here are some excerpts from the editorial:
An altered work schedule has the potential to save money while ensuring better emergency services.
Mr. Ellerbe said the change would help curb excessive overtime while enabling (through attrition) a reduction in the number of full-time employees, eventually saving $36 million per year.
Whether the so-called 3-3-3 plan is the best combination is to be determined, but the chief is persuasive on the need to reexamine the 24-hour shift. Shorter shifts would allow for more training opportunities.
Since firefighters, paid annually, would work more hours per week under the new scenario, more compensation is in order, particularly since they have not had a raise since 2006.
More money won’t appease everyone who has built a life around a work schedule that — with its requirement of just eight or nine workdays a month — allows extended time with families, second jobs and the ability to live as far away as North Carolina. Ed Smith, president of the firefighters union, says he believes the change will prompt an exodus from the department, including by EMS-qualified firefighters who were recruited to upgrade the department in the wake of the Rosenbaum case.
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Also on STATter911 …
- Like Mayor Vince Gray, Washington Post Editorial Board has confidence in Chief Kenneth Ellerbe. Supports EMS redeployment & shift change. – March 18, 2013
- DC hearing shows different views on how to handle peak EMS demand & medic shortage. Chief Ellerbe has second thoughts after communications director blocks press. – May 18, 2013
- DC update: Washington Post editorial again backs Chief Ellerbe. TV station gets documents that confirms department’s staffing issues. – August 23, 2013
- Can’t anyone get it right around here? For third time in just 24 hours Chief Kenneth Ellerbe says DC reporters got a story wrong. – February 23, 2013
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