By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers says he’ll sit down with the union that represents city firefighters to discuss the potential impact of a coming change to their work schedules.
Ayers issued a memo this week informing firefighters and Local 22 officials of his intention to alter the firefighters’ shifts as of mid-October.
Currently, firefighters work two 10-hour days and two 14-hour nights, followed by four days off.
The “four days on, four days off” won’t change, but Ayers says he wants to align the firefighters’ shifts with the 12-hour shifts that Philadelphia paramedics work, “so we can reduce the times it takes for our citizens to receive our paramedics services, our emergency medical technician services, having a more effective and efficient system.”
Ayers says emergency medical services has become the majority of the work the fire department does, and since firefighters are emergency medical technicians as well, it gives officials the potential to put more medic units on the street.
Firefighters’ union president Bill Gault is skeptical but willing to talk.
“Well, we’ve been doing this shift, ten-hour days and fourteen-hour nights, for 40 years,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “I’m sure in the beginning it’s going to negatively impact us, but we have to have a meeting with them and work out the logistics and see if it has to go down the way he wants it to go down.”