The 48/96 Work Schedule: A Viable Alternative?

Issue 2 and Volume 165.

BY TODD L. POOLE A growing trend mostly among progressive western U.S. fire departments is the implementation of a 48/96 work schedule. In this alternative to traditional 56-hour workweek patterns, employees work 48 hours, followed by 96 hours off. My research has revealed benefits and challenges of the 48/96 schedule. A significant question, however, is do the benefits of a 48/96 schedule outweigh the potential negative effects that can result from working firefighters 48 consecutive hours? BENEFITS The idea of working a 48/96 schedule likely originated in Kern County, California.1 Firefighters, unable to afford homes in the area, were forced to live great distances from their places of employment. The long commutes of the employees resulted in the development of the 48/96 rotation, which reduced by half the number of commutes for the employees and resulted in significant cost savings to the firefighters. As the 48/96 schedule became more prevalent,…

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