A Review of the Research Literature on 24-Hour Shifts for Firefighters

On January 24, 2012, more than 100 firefighters in Washington, DC walked out of their Fire Chief’s “State of the Department” address over the Chief’s desire to move his department away from the traditional 24-hour on, 72-hour off shift schedule to a 12-hour shift model (D.C. Firefighters Protest Chief’s Proposed Shift Change, January 25, 2012). The main arguments raised by the Chief were that moving to a 12-hour shift would save 36 million dollars annually and would reduce the number of mistakes made by firefighters, which increases during the second half of a 24-hour shift. Those opposed to the Chief’s proposal argued that moving away from the 24-hour shift schedule would significantly reduce morale, reduce the efficiency of the department, force some members to quit, create a de facto residency requirement, and ultimately reduce public safety (D.C. Firefighters Protest Chief’s Proposed Shift Change, January 25, 2012).

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