The following guide is aimed to help the county, city or other governing body employing firefighters to minimize fire department budgets.
One healthy, motivated man or woman who has studied, trained and in many occasions paid for their firefighter and EMS certification.
Begin their employment with a 56 hour work week. These firefighters will have an innate love of the job enabling them to be manipulated. If met with any questions such as “how come our law enforcement agencies or fire departments in other countries work 40 hour weeks?”, use phrases such as “McDonald’s is hiring”. It is imperative that this facade of normality around the 56 hour work week is maintained as it could have a significant effect on your annual bonus. Whatever you do, don’t let them know you only work 40 hours and sleep in your own bed every night.
Dissuade any sort of rest or sleep. Although it is widely accepted in high level sports, the military, the airline industry and the trucking industry, sleep is not required for these men and women. They may come back with weak arguments such as “don’t you want the firefighter driving and engine lights and sirens at 2 am around your family to be well rested?” or “a clear mind is needed to do pediatric drug doses in the back of a moving ambulance”. Of course this is true but refute such statements with claims of inadequate budget….but make sure the insurance premiums are paid up as they actually have a good point.
Block any attempts to change the work week. There is no question about the correlation between sleep deprivation and disease. Your firefighters may come to you with weak statistics such as “first responders live 12 years less than the average citizen” or “they are 10 times more likely to commit suicide”. This is when you reach into the archives and pull out the old chestnut “rub some dirt in it. If you can’t handle the job then quit”. If they do, this will give you the opportunity to hire new recruits on a much lower wage. It’s a win-win. Whatever you do, do not deviate from the 56 hour week. Are you going to let those lazy firefighters stop you getting that new Lexus?
Slash the training budget. Although these men and women are required to be proficient at everything from fighting fires to field cricothyrotomy, rope rescue to tactical medicine and everything in between, training is not a priority. If it hasn’t happened yet, then it probably never will so there’s no point throwing money at it. If the training department requests equipment that will better serve the public or protect the first responder, respond with “they’ve done without it for 50 years without any problem”.
To finish the job, cut funding so the base pay is so low, the department cannot keep good people. This will created a constant employee deficit and force mandatory shifts. Forcing a firefighter into a 72 hour week is significantly cheaper that paying benefits for a new employee. You may hear cries of “I haven’t seen my kids for three days” or “I’m a single parent, I have to go home”. Again, I’m sure McDonald’s needs someone to cook those burgers.
To ensure this is effective, make the average career of a firefighter 30 years. With one sleepless night in three, this will equate to 10 years of no sleep. With a destroyed immune system, the body and mind will surely fail. The added insult of products of combustion, diesel fumes and such will secure this result.
Classified!! - Do not open!!
At no time can you ever let the firefighters know that there is a solution to the cancer, heart disease and suicide epidemic in first responders. Various departments in the Country have switched to a 24/72 shift schedule, creating a 42 hour work week and securing an extra night’s sleep between each shift. This schedule gives the men and women who make life saving interventions the tools to succeed.
This shift schedule also creates a healthier workforce, therefore reducing workplace injuries, medical retirements and workplace errors. As you can see, this kind of information can never be discovered as this would require a slight change in budget to invest in your employees.
Now you have learned how to foster an environment guaranteed to create death, ill health and suicide in your first responders, keep doing what you’ve always done and resist any change. Good luck!