The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors continued a discussion at a June 23 meeting about the possibility of changing the 2023 schedules, with the primary focus being retention and recruitment.
The board first heard the topic on June 8, with possible changes including changing the EMS schedule to a 3/4 schedule and the Fire schedule to 48/96. A 3/4 schedule includes a 24-hour shift every other day for five days, followed by four days off. The 48/96 schedule includes a 48-hour shift followed by four days off.
Fire Chief Brian Hendricks had reservations about safety issues related to long shifts. He recommended that the board adopt some policy changes and only do a one-year trial of any changes. These changes would relate to time trading and sick leave policy – time trading would be amended to prohibit shifts of 60 hours or more, non-duty related sick time would no longer count towards overtime and changes to attendance bonuses related to sick leave.
Hendricks said some employees currently work 48- to 72-hour shifts with time off, so a shift to longer shifts could make them more likely.
“I don’t think a change to a work schedule like 48/96 is going to be a magic bullet. I don’t believe this will 100% solve our retention issues,” Hendricks said. “This is an industry-wide problem. Everyone has trouble finding people.
In an effort to increase future recruitment opportunities, Hendricks said he is teaming up with Lindbergh Schools Superintendent Tony Lake to create an outreach program aimed at getting people interested in the profession.
Capt. Ty Cardona, shop steward for Mehlville Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said he had spoken to some EMS employees who wanted to see an investigation into possible schedules before the board takes action. a decision. Cardona said the possible 3/4 was not popular because employees only had one day off several times in a row.
Board members liked the idea of surveying the entire department to compare a 3/4 versus staying the same.
The investigation will include any possible policy changes to allow employees to make the most informed choice possible.