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In our FD, our suppression crews work a 24 hour shift. There is now talk about our dispatchers wanting to work a 24 hour shift. We are a small dispatch centre, dispatching about 15000 calls per year. We only have 2 dispatchers on duty at all times.

I'm looking for feedback (pros and cons) for dispatchers working a 24 hour shift. Comments from dispatchers/fire fighters who have personal experience would be great and of course, I'd like to hear from everyone else too.

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I certainly understand why the dispatchers want to work 24 hour shifts. However, I am concerned for you and your jurisdiction if this is allowed to happen. Sure, the gas prices are out of this world right now. I see that the dispatchers are wanting to maximize their hours with less traveling, but when you talk about 24s for dispatchers, you have to think about why 24/48s are allowed for fire service and EMS.

The reason why we have been able to do 24/48s for so long is simple. We are allowed in most cases, a certain amount of down time. For the same reason we are not entitled to time and a half pay until 53 hours in a work week have been completed. So, if 24 hr shifts for dispatchers are allowed, are we to allow them the opportunity to sleep, away from their console and desk? Perhaps in some jurisdictions this is not that unrealistic, however, I think everyone who knows the riggers of 24/48s, knows what I mean when I say sleep deprivation affects productivity. On the days when the operator is busy, is it acceptable to say, "Well the operator was really tired, and that is why the Paramedics couldn't find your home."

In respect to productivity, I think you will find, that the data supports a stand point completely the opposite of what is being suggested. The latest data I have seen states that when operators work more than six hour blocks, their ability to remain focused is severely diminished. I've been on both sides of the argument. When I dispatched, I worked 12 hour shifts for a seven day stretch and then I had the next seven days off. I loved it from a family stand point. I brag, it was like having 26 weeks of vacation per year. Though this was nice, the days were long and my focus was not centered on the task. This was not a high volume service either. We handled around 100 calls per week. Also, when people become tired, they begin to cut corners to speed productivity. Could you imagine having an operator send a partial message out to an Engine Company? What part would be acceptable to exclude? "Engine One, be enroute to 1234 Main St for the report of a commercial fire alarm," but, the operator leaves out the call was generated from a pull station activation. Obviously this changes the whole dynamic of the call.

If you allow this my friend, be prepared to receive half the information for double the hours. Ask yourself, can I survive on less information? GOOD LUCK!
Steve,

If your dispatchers intend to do 24 hour shifts, then it must be considered that at least three, or more, dispatchers will have to be on duty each shift, as at least one would have to be resting at least two or so hours at any given moment. That will possibly increase personnel.

I worked the old 8 hours on 16 off - 3 days, 3 evenings, 3 midnights and 3 days off. We had four dispatchers (one per shift) plus the supervisor who did 08:00 to 16:00 Monday through Friday, which gave us those extra hands and ears during the normally busiest time frame. Even on the "tombstone" shift we did not suffer stress or sleepiness. This is in my opinion, the "ideal" structure, as the shift is short enough to avoid overloads. The 12/48 could be OK depending on the call loads, but 24 hour shifts are too long.

Responding firefighters doing the 24 hour shift schedule can normally rest and even sleep for a few hours during that period, but I don't see it as being favorable for dispatchers.
There is one main dispatch center for our county,24/7.Which is over all the Fire Depts,in the county. I know that the other county's have there dispatch center that is separate from the dept. Which the Dispatch center is in its own location,from the Fire Dept's. Each Fire Dept that gets toned out,depends on what zone they are in. My dept is zone 2 and 3 zone.but we can get toned out to help other department's in case of mutiple structure fires,
Our dispatcher is good about sending us to the right locations.

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