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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Station Life: What kind of schedule do Brentwood Firefighters work?

This is a question we, as Brentwood Firefighters, get asked often. People are curious how the city is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. There is not a moment during the year that the city is not being protected by a minimum of 16 firefighters and 7 manned apparatus.

The Brentwood Fire & Rescue Department currently has 55 on-duty firefighters, five administrative staff, and one maintenance officer. The 55 on-duty firefighters work in three shifts, A-shift, B-shift, and C-shift. The working schedule for the firefighters is 48 hours on duty, then 96 hours off duty, 48/96 for short.

The shifts begin at 7:00am and end two days later at 7:00am when the relieving shift arrives. For the entire 48 hour stretch, the firefighters work and live at the fire hall. The department transitioned from a 24/48 schedule to the 48/96 schedule two years ago. It is a popular trend in the fire service as studies have shown in improves firefighters overall job satisfaction and allows firefighters to fully recover from their shift before having to go back on duty.  The other big advantage to this schedule is the ability for firefighters to have more consecutive days at home to spend with their families and leisure activities.

Lieutenant Mike McCutcheon sitting in the officer’s quarters at Station 4

 While on duty for 48 hours firefighters have a number of responsibilities beyond responding to emergencies. The firefighters are responsible for checking off the apparatus when coming on duty, making sure that everything works properly and all the supplies are fully stocked and in their proper locations. The fire stations are cleaned, the apparatus are washed, and then training begins. The daytime hours at the fire hall are dedicated to training and sharpening skills for the highly varied tasks firefighters can be called upon to perform. Brentwood Firefighters are also expected to exercise each day that that they are on duty. This is to ensure that they are in the best condition possible to meet the physical demands of this job.

One of Station 4’s Bunk Rooms

After a long day of training and responding to emergencies, firefighters like to eat. The crews at each fire hall sit and eat dinner together each evening. The crews assign a cooking order so the firefighter cooking dinner each evening will rotate. The rest of the evening is occupied by studying, reading, watching movies, playing games, or talking. These are often the same types of things that firefighters do at home with their own families, which only make sense since firefighters live with each other for a third of their lives, making them truly become like a family.

Station 4 Day Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen

Brentwood Firefighters have a great schedule, no doubt. They are all thankful for this job and the opportunities this schedule affords them. They may have four days off at a time, but the two days they are here, they are feverishly devoted to the City and improving their craft. Brentwood Firefighters give it all they have and sometimes that can and does require sacrifice.