A firefighters’ union is concerned about a new shift pattern introduced by Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service because many members feel it is not family-friendly.
Since January, full time fire stations across the county have operated a 12-hour shift pattern based on two days of 8am-8pm and two nights of 8pm-8am, followed by four days off.
But many firefighters say the day shifts mean leaving home before their children are awake and arriving home after they’ve gone to bed.
Crewe firefighter Andy Fox-Hewitt, acting secretary of Cheshire Fire Brigades Union, hopes the issue can be raised at bi-monthly review meetings agreed with management.
He said: “Seventy percent of staff wanted 7am-7pm. Cheshire FBU highlighted concerns of members with specific regard to family-friendliness of the shift patterns. Since the introduction, we have had a number of members express concerns that they have not been seeing their children for more than 48 hours.”
Mr Fox-Hewitt, who has a three-year-old and a one-year-old, is in the same boat. He leaves for work at 7.15am and arrives home around 8.30pm by which time the children are in bed.
Another advantage of starting at 7am, argue firefighters, is that members would be able to drive to work without getting snarled up in rush-hour traffic.
The previous model, believed to have been in place since 1977, involved working two day shifts of 9am-6pm and two nights of 6pm-9am, followed by four days’ leave.
A spokesperson from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “As of January 1st firefighters based at Warrington, Widnes, Crewe, Chester, Ellesmere Port and Runcorn Fire Stations changed to a 12-hour shift pattern. This replaced the previous model of a nine-hour day and a 15-hour night. They continue to work for two days, followed by two nights with the next four days off.
“This new shift system was introduced after two years of comprehensive negotiations, both locally and nationally, between the service, firefighters and their representative bodies. The decision for their working day to begin at 8am came out of these detailed negotiations.”
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