101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Tuesday, October 13

My 5 hour day

I was confronted by a citizen recently about how I was paid to sit around and play pool and sleep and that I was robbing the City. She stopped me while we were out doing our weekly hydrant checks, which I explained to her, but she refused to listen.

It got me thinking though, that many of you not in the business may think us 24 hour guys have it pretty good. I'm the first to tell you we do, but not because of the reasons you may think. When I stopped to think about it, I really do have a weekend everyday I go home. But I also work 5 distinct "days" within my 24 hour shift. Since I try to arrive an hour early, this makes my day 25 hours. Allow me to explain.

Monday - 7 AM to noon
Back to work, just like you folks on your Mondays. Getting into the swing of things, seeing your work friends, and remembering what working is like. Check all the gear, clean the house and get the shopping done. It's all routine on Monday.

Tuesday - Noon to 5 PM
The week drags on, but the morning is finished. After lunch it's usually a drill and a class, then maybe a workout before getting ready to fix dinner. This is by far my favorite part of the day.

Wednesday - 5 PM to 10 PM
Hump day. Making dinner, eating dinner and the wind down following the meal can be good, but you're reminded that your shift is only half way finished. Sometimes you have time for a full movie, other times you're lucky if you get dinner on Wednesday.

Thursday - 10 PM to 3 AM
Isn't it Friday yet? On my Thursday I'm up in the dorm looking for a good place to sleep, wondering how many more times I will have to climb the three flights of stairs before Friday is over. When busy it goes fast, but when the calls are spaced about an hour apart and bells ring just as you enter REM sleep it can exhaust you just thinking about it. I HATE THURSDAYS.

Friday - 3 AM to 8 AM
But those who know my writings here know I'm a fan of my Friday. When I awake and see we're heading out and it's after three I relax and realize it is officially morning instead of night. then it's a downhill slide to the sunrise and end of shift at 8 AM, my Friday night.

So there you have it my 9-5 friends, my 5 day week within a day. Then I get a weekend, just like you, except mine can't start until I get home after the shift.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The "you guys get paid for sleeping"
comments burn my ass. True, if you enter my firehouse after lunchtime you will probably find most of the crew snoring loudly in recliners. That is because when you're asleep in your bed at 3 in the morning we may be (a) wiping some form of bodily emission/fluid off a patient while performing CPR........or (b)crawling down a hallway, wearing 70 lbs of gear in high heat, zero visibility searching for a "reported" entrapped person.........or (c) etc. etc. etc. adnauseum infinitum.
Or on rare occasions I might be asleep too !
DaveO

dustymedic said...

I can remember days when I was lucky to spend a total of 2 hours in bed (over 3-4 trys of sleeping between runs)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I get paid to sleep and sometimes I get paid to police up rotting corpses from the Potomac River. It's a fair trade, i think.

Best,

WF&DT

John said...

On the sleeping issue-The complainers never take into account that, in our case, we work 56 hours/week, with only 3 of it being OT-not 16. Or that the reason we were exempted from OT for those hours was to save the city money on overnight coverage. 24s are something we adapted to because the employer used them to save money. If they are so great why doesn't everyone work that way?

The Happy Medic said...

John,
Good point. 24s are part cultural and part political I think. it falls in line with meal breaks. If you take me off the clock for lunch, I don't respond. Keep me on the clock, you have to pay me. Same thing for night coverage. It works in some areas for career personnel to remain on duty 24 hours, others have excellent coverage with volunteers.
Like the others said, I sometimes do get paid to sleep. Other times I get paid to stay up all night chasing the homeless around my City.