Emergency responders in Plymouth could see a change in their work schedules in the new year. The Plymouth Common Council is considering an amendment to next year’s salary ordinance that would give Fire Department employees more consecutive days off.
Fire Chief Rodney Miller told the council Monday it’s a change from the department’s current schedule, in which employees work one day, followed by two days off, “It does change the way that we do work our schedule. It doesn’t change the hours or the days. It would be a day on, a day off, a day on, a day off, a day on, and then four days off. It would rotate the weekends off a little bit different, I believe. Off the top of my head, I think you would have four days of a day when you rotate through that.”
Miller says the schedule change wasn’t his idea but was requested by his employees, “At first, I told them I wasn’t interested in looking at it. And then I had a couple of them approach me with some more information on it, and so I told them to get me a model of about four months’ worth of this schedule so I could look at it, and I did. Then I had a meeting with the clerk-treasurer and human resources, and we looked at it. With the number of hours being the same, the number of days a month being the same, I elected to go ahead and entertain that.”
He says this type of schedule’s already in use at other fire departments, including South Bend and Mishawaka. However, not everyone at the Plymouth Fire Department’s in favor of the change. Paramedic Marsha Wainscott says the new schedule would be worse for emergency responders, “To make a change of this nature, of this magnitude – it’s a life-changing schedule change, and it will affect family life; it will affect anybody that has a part-time job and has a longstanding part- time job.”
She says the change should require unanimous approval from employees, and that firefighters didn’t take paramedics’ schedules into account when requesting the changes, “We’re too busy, and it’s not going to work. We are going to be more tired, more wore out, less able to think and do judgment the way we should. I’m not trying do put it out there that we’re not good enough. We are. We’ve got good people, but when you’re tired, you’re tired; and when you’re overworked, you’re overworked. Most of the time, we have one paramedic. If somebody takes time off, you’ve got one paramedic working on that shift that day.”
After the discussion, the Common Council narrowly approved the schedule change on second reading by a vote of three-to-two. Mayor Mark Senter decided to delay the third reading until next month to give city officials time to further investigate the proposed schedule.