Mehlville Fire Board of Directors review results of employee schedule survey

District weighing whether to do one-year schedule trial

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By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors reviewed the results of an employee survey July 6 about modifying the current employee work schedule. 

The district has been discussing the possibility of changing the employee work schedule since early June. Currently the schedule is a “modified Kelly schedule.” A Kelly schedule typically consists of alternating 24-hour shifts for a certain number of days, followed by four days off. Some of the changes being reviewed by the board include changing the EMS schedule to a 3/4 schedule, featuring a 24-hour shift every other day for five days followed by four days off, as well as changing the fire schedule to 48/96, which is a 48-hour shift followed by four days off. 

According to Chief Brian Hendricks, 62 percent of employees favored staying with the modified Kelly schedule, while 49 percent were interested in the transition to a 3/4 and 48/96 schedule.

Both the directors and chief have expressed concerns at past meetings that changing the schedule would result in less comradery between fire and EMS teams, as well as safety concerns with long shifts. 

Captain Ty Cardona, shop steward of Mehlville Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the comradery aspect should not factor into the board’s decision since there are teams that already do not interact anyways. 

“I feel this is an invalid concern due to the fact that we already have an EMS shift one and two that never work with the same crew on a daily basis,” Cardona said at the July 6 meeting, which was so packed with employees that it was standing room only. “The 48/96 has been the industry standard in the area for the past 10 years approximately. To my knowledge, there have been no more problems with manning, errors, training … compared to our current schedule or the 3/4.”

Director Bonnie Stegman said one of the reasons she was concerned about the 48/96 schedule is because of sleep, referencing a recent sleep researcher at a conference she attended that said the 48/96 schedule appeared to result in more injuries in the second 24-hour shift. 

“That’s my big thing. Yeah, the comradery is important but to me it’s safety. And No. 1, safety for my patients, safety for you,” Stegman said. 

The board will likely vote on whether or not to implement a one-year trial of the new schedules at its next meeting July 20.