St. Andrews firefighters ponder new work schedule

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - When it comes to keeping our communities safe, fire fighters work around the clock. Most of them currently work for 24 hours straight then have two days off, but that could change if the St. Andrews Fire Department has its way.

Under a new work schedule proposal fire fighters would work for 48-hours straight and be off for four days before returning back to work.

John Hunter has been fighting fires with the St. Andrews Fire Department (SAFD) for more than two years and agrees with the proposal.

"It'd be more time with your family. There's two days you'd be away, but the four days will give you time to recover and gain strength," Hunter said.

With their around the clock schedules the recover time is crucial for Hunter and other fighters to do their job well.

"If you ran all night the night before, those extra two days will give you more time to relax and get enough rest to go to work the next day," Hunter said.

SAFD Senior Captain Morris Sills is working on the proposal with other fire fighters and said it would not affect the department's emergency response time.

"We will still work 10 days a month. We just do it in different blocks," Sills continued, "it won't impact the money or budget or anything. It's zero impact on what the government is already doing," Sills said.

In addition to cutting down on sick leave and allowing firefighters more time with their families, the proposed adjustment to their work schedule could also help our environment.

"On average, most people could see their gas bills cut in half because their commutes to and from work would change," Sills said.

Most fire fighters are in favor of the proposal, however, some are concerned about being away from their families for 48 hours straight.

Hunter's wife Stephanie said their family is willing to adjust.

"It's not going to affect us much. There have been days where he worked 48 hours already. The girls will miss him a lot, but we get through it, it's not bad at all," Mrs. Hunter said.

Working two on and four off has worked out well for other departments around the country, however, time will tell how it works for St. Andrews.

The proposal is still in its early stages. From here SAFD will take a vote on it. If the majority of fire fighters agree, then the department will take it to the St. Andrews Public Service Commission for final approval.

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