Jefferson City Council approved 48-hour shifts for firefighters

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Council voted to unanimously Monday to increase shift lengths for the city's firefighters.

Firefighters will now work 48.5-hour shifts. Before the vote, the department had firefighters working 24.5-hour shifts. The shift change is on one year trial basis. After one year, the city administrator will decide whether to keep the shifts longer, or change them back to 24.5 hours. 

James Noah, who is the Vice-President for the Jefferson City Firefighters Union, said the longer shift will allow them to spend more time with their families.

He said firefighters will gain time with their families because they'll be home when the family is awake, and they will have to commute to the station fewer times each week. 

“You miss a lot of firsts, you know first steps, first talks, first time saying mom, dad or mom, those aspects of it," Noah said.

Jamie Karl, who is the Assistant Fire Chief at Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District, said his department made the same change around 2013. He said the the change has made it easier to recruit people who work two different jobs because they have more time in between shifts.

“Most fireman don’t go home and go back to sleep," Karl said. "Most get on with their day and go to another job.” 

Justin Martin, who is a firefighter at Lake Ozark Fire Protection District, said his department made the same change around 2011. He said the change cuts his commute in half and allows him to spend more time with his family.

"I try to spend as much time as I can with my family as I can and this allows me to spend more time with them," Martin said.  "It allows me to schedule things easier as well."

Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Brad Fraizer said Columbia has discussed switching to a 48-hour shift similar to Jefferson City, but decided to keep the shifts around 24-hours.