It brings new meaning to the term, ‘a full day’s work’. On Wednesday, Buffalo firefighters began a new schedule of 24 hour shifts as part of their new eight-year contract.
The new eight-day schedule will see most Buffalo firefighters working 24 hours straight, then they will have 24 hours off, then 24 hours work again, followed by five days off.
“It was a city proposal,” said Vinny Ventresca, president of the Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local 282. “We had talked to membership and polled membership. We knew it might come up in negotiations and the members felt it was something they were willing to accept. The contract obviously was overwhelmingly supported, so we’re ready to go forward with it.”
It may seen radical, but it’s actually the norm. 75% of professional fire departments across the US and Canada are already using 24 hour work shifts. There will be just as many firefighters working at any given time as there was before, and the City administration felt it would help with management control.
There are 700 Buffalo firefighters and almost 40 of them are women. While women have managed to find privacy when it comes to dressing or using the restrooms, the union says a lot of the old firehouses could use some retro-fitting in that regard.
“The members cook all their own meals and rest when they are able,” said Ventresca. “But just being there for the 24 straight hours is the biggest change, but otherwise they’re ready to go. We felt it was a good thing for the members and a good thing for the city.”
Ventresca also said Buffalo firefighters may actually have an easier time adjusting to this shift than the old one. “Under the old schedule, when a member would work a 15 hour night, they only had seven ours to recuperate before they would be back in the firehouse to work another 15 hour night. In this case, a member will work a full 24 hour shift, they’ll have 24 hours to recuperate, then they’ll work another 24 hour full shift.”