Union City Proposal

Union City Proposal


To:          Local 1946 Membership

CC:         Fire Chief Brian Kelly                     

From:     Local 1946 E-board

Date:      1/16/2006

Re:         48/96 work Schedule

This is our proposal to the membership and Fire Chief about changing to the 48/96 work schedule.  Below are the details, pros, cons, and recommendations.



Local 1946 would like to change to a 48/96 hour work schedule in January 2002.  This would be a 1 year trial period with the local reverting back to a 3/4  work schedule at the end of one year.  The Local can vote to make the 48/96-work schedule permanent with a 2/3-majority vote in November 2002.

The 48-hour cycle shall be defined as two consecutive 24-hour shift days.  The 96-hour cycle between shifts shall be defined as four consecutive 24-hour days.      

For the purpose of vacation, sick leave, shift trade, or any other time off, each 48-hour cycle will be broken down to two, 24-hour shifts.  Time off can be taken in any increments of time in each 24-hour period. 

Holiday Schedule Adjustment


A complete shift swap is made when Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are on the same shift.  The shift originally assigned to work December 23rd is reassigned to work December 24th.  The shift originally assigned to work December 24th is reassigned to work December 23rd.

             New Years’ Day

A complete shift swap is made when New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are on the same shift.  The shift originally assigned to work December 30th is reassigned to work December 31st.    The shift originally assigned to work December 31st is reassigned to work December 30th.

Below is the current information we have on a 48/96-work schedule and that has been presented to the membership.

48/96-Work Schedule

History of the 48/96 (48 hours on / 96 hours off)


In many areas, fire department personnel found that they could not afford to live in the communities in which they worked.  This caused many firefighters to move to the outlying areas for affordable housing, thus extending their commute time.  To meet the needs of the fire department members the 48/96-work schedule was implemented in many communities.  Upon trial and implementation of this schedule it was determined that there were positive benefits for both the members and management.  These benefits are addressed below.  Most fire departments tried the 48/96-work schedule for a 6-to12 month trial basis before voting in the permanent change.


Departments using the 48/96-work schedule


Albuquerque, New Mexico; Hermosa Beach, Gardena, South Pasadena, Covina, Manhattan Beach,  Barstow, Redondo Beach, Atwater, Ebbetts Pass, Hesperia, El Segundo, Hillsborough, Sausalito, Brisbane, North Tahoe, Donner Summit, Burlingame, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Brisbane, Stanislaus County and Pacifica.


Pros of the 48/96-work schedule


·         This schedule would reduce our travel time in half.  We would have 5 round trips instead of 10 per month.  This is a reduction of 60 round trips per year.  This means less time on the road, less fuel being used, less wear and tear on vehicles, less pollution being emitted, and a possible reduction in auto insurance rates.  This adds up to less stress and more time at home with our families. 


·         Our “Four Days” off would increase by 66% to 60 “Four Days” per year as opposed to 36 with the current work schedule, and additional 24 “Four Days” per year.  This offers more quality time at home with our families.  It also offers more opportunities to work single shift trades and single overtime days in those “Four Days” instead of working 72 hours straight.


·         Most of the departments using the 48/96-work schedule have seen a reduction in sick leave usage by an average of one-third, while many are averaging about one half.  Sick time was decreased by 33% at Gardena Fire the first year in use, and after four years it is 25% below a 10-year average before the 48/96-work schedule was implemented. 


·         The 48/96-work schedule allows for increased efficiency and productivity of employees.  Working two consecutive days eliminates repetition and allows more time to complete projects.


·         Broken appointments with the public can be rescheduled for the next day instead of the next week in many cases.


·         This schedule is desirable for families with children.  Many of the hours spent on the road commuting typically are the same hours of the day used by parents for daycare drop off or driving to school.  Thus, commute time can be spent helping spouses in this regard.  Additionally, with the increase in the numbers of weekends off, firefighters can spend more time with friends and family members who have a traditional Monday – Friday work schedule. 


·         Retention of employees is essential to creating a professional and effective organization.  The cost of housing in the bay area has forced employees to purchase homes outside the bay area, and will continue to do so for all future homes purchasers.  A 50% reduction in commute time may very well influence employee’s decision to come to UCFD and remain for their entire career.



·                   As we see from the benefits listed above, this is not just a “Commuter’s Schedule.”  In fact, 73% (22 of 30) of the line personnel at North Tahoe Fire Department live fewer than 20 minutes from one of the 3 Stations within their district.  They voted 29 ayes and 1 nay to change from the 3 on, 4 off to the 48/96-work schedule.




Cons of the 48/96-work schedule


·         The issue of working “back to back” shifts was a concern for those at busy houses until they realized that 48’s and 72’s were common with shift trades and overtime shifts.  The busy stations of concern were those staffing medic units, but simply rotating crews between the medic unit and engine solved the problem.  Now crews enjoy the reality of coming to work once and then going on a four day.


·         Initially, there is a concern that the 48/96-work schedule may take away from the family time.  However, as the numbers prove, the opposite is true and personal time off is increased significantly.


·         Due to the training of smaller departments in the Southern California region it was realized that there could be conflicts between the two schedules.  Consequently, a push was made to switch the other departments to the 48/96-work schedule.  When Brisbane’s change to the 48/96-work schedule it was found that departments with 2/4, 4/6, and 3/4  schedules could cross train firefighters together.


·         Possibility of working both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve on rare occasions. **


**          Other departments have worked out this situation in the following way:


A shift swap is made.

The shift originally assigned to work December 23rd is reassigned to work

December 24th.

The shift originally assigned to work December 24th is reassigned to work December 23rd.



This change can be added to the MOU so there is no question as to who has to work when.



Comparison of current schedule to the 48/96 schedule


The following is based on an average shift in 2001.


·                   “Four Days” off

Current schedule = 36

48/96 schedule = 60  (66.7% more “Four Days” per year or 24 more)


·                   Weekends off (both days)

Current schedule = 17

48/96 schedule = 27  (58.8% more weekends per year or 10 more)


·                   Weekends working one day (Saturday or Sunday)

Current schedule = 35

48/96 schedule = 17 (48.5% less or 18 less)


·                   Weekends working both days

Current schedule = 0

48/96 schedule = 8  (8 two weekend + 17 one weekend shifts= 25 weekends tied up.  You still gain 10 full weekends off with the 48/96).


·                   Sleep in days  (days you do not have to get up and drive, to work or home)

Current schedule = 9 per month

48/96 schedule = 15  (66.66% more days/month or 72 more days/yr)


·                   Annual Leave


Current schedule                  1 tour (3 shifts) yields 13 days off = 72   hours taken

2 tour (6 shifts) yields 22 days off = 144 hours taken

3 tour (9 shifts) yields 31 days off = 216 hours taken


48/96 schedule    1 tour (2 shifts) yields 10 days off = 48   hours taken

2 tour (4 shifts) yields 16 days off = 96   hours taken

3 tour (6 shifts) yields 22 days off = 144 hours taken

4 tour (8 shifts) yields 28 days off = 192 hours taken



For those interested in how this schedule corresponds with current college curriculum; it maintains the same number of days available for school, but arranges them differently.





A majority of the UCFD lives outside of the immediate area.  However, this group of members is not the only ones impacted by the traffic issues within Alameda County.  With the continuing increase of prosperity and growth within the county the impact on traffic will continue to worsen the commute for all members of the department.  The proposed 48/96-work schedule would profoundly lessen the impact on the present and future traffic issues. 


Clearly the 48/96-work schedule is a win-win situation for the department and its’ employees.  By rearranging an already proven method of maintaining around the clock service to the public (using a 3 platoon system), we the providers will obtain an increasingly significant opportunity to enhance the productivity of “our time” spent at and away from work.  The 48/96-work schedule will allow the Union City Fire Department to save financially with statistically backed reductions in sick leave.  It will also put our department in the “spotlight” by being the 1st department in the county to work the 48/96-work schedule on a trial basis.  There are currently several departments in the bay area that are considering the 48/96-work schedule as a viable option.  Alameda County, Fremont, San Mateo City, Santa Clara County, and San Jose, are among a known few who are on that list. 


In short, if given the opportunity to implement the new schedule, it is believed that continuity, productivity, morale, general well being, and leadership in the county by the Union City Fire Department will be greatly enhanced.




C- shift Rep





Some additional items that have been brought up by the membership are listed below.

o        Include all holidays and the alternating schedule we will be using for those days and have them listed for the whole year.

o        If you work for someone as a standby in the morning, you will not be able to be paid back that time by that person.  You will have to get the time from another shift and they would get the time from the person who owes you the time.

o        When the City provides training for the department from an outside source, they will not be able to schedule the training 3 days in a row and get all three shifts.

o        OT will be assigned in 24 hour increments and not 48 hr. blocks.

o        Sick leave still only taken in the increment needed and not a required 48





We will have a ballot vote on this proposal starting September 25, 2001 to October 5, 2001.  We will get all ballots to the membership via the “Shift Reps” and will collect all the ballots by October 5, 2001.  A 2/3 vote will be necessary to carry this proposal. 



Fiscal Impact

We see no additional fiscal impact from the City.  The costs will remain as they currently are, with the possibility of reduced sick leave usage and workers comp.  Cities that have gone to this schedule have shown trends in these fiscal savings areas.




Local 1946 implement the 48/96-work schedule in January 2002 on a 1 year trial basis.  A 2/3 majority vote to make the 48/96 work schedule permanent to be completed in November 2002.



Submitted by:                      Local 1946 E-Board

© Greg Briggs 2012