Mayor Vincent C. Gray vowed to move forward with a deeply controversial proposal to change the way firefighters' work shifts are arranged, over the objections of at least one of his possible successors, reports The Washington Post.
Last week, the citys Public Employee Relations Board ruled that the fire department is free to move to a new work schedule of shorter but more frequent shifts -- upending the long-standing 24 hours on, 72 hours off schedule that has allowed many firefighters to live hundreds of miles from the city.
"We're happy with the PERB decision, and we intend to move forward with the implementation of the PERB decision," Gray (D) said at a Wednesday news conference.
Gray's top public safety deputy, Paul Quander, said it is crucial that the department move to bring its personnel closer to home to improve readiness for a major disaster. "Our concern all along is that the District of Columbia is unique in that we are a high-target area, so we always have to be prepared for the worst case scenario," he said. "Having firefighters closer, more readily available will allow us to be better prepared in the event we have to deal with a threat. â¦ The bottom line is, this needs to be done, and weâre going to move aggressively to make sure that we are properly staffed."
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