What Are the Typical Work Hours for a Firefighter?

Some might be lured to become a firefighter due to the adventurous nature of the job or the desire to help people. Others, though, might be turned off by the work hours required of firefighters. Firefighters do not work usual 8-hour days, nor do they have weekends off. Read on to find out more regarding the typical work hours for a firefighter. Schools offering Fire Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Schedule Overview

Firefighters generally work in long shifts that include weekends and holidays. These shifts might differ from one city to another. The two most common types of shifts for firefighters are 24 hours on followed by 48 hours off, or 10- to 12-hour shifts for three to four days in a row.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Pay (2012) $45,250
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 7% growth
Work Environment Hazardous environments; higher-than-average rates of injury and illness
Entry-Level Education At least a high school diploma or GED; post-secondary education may be required in some jurisdictions
On-the-job Training Fire academy or an apprenticeship, the latter of which can last 4 years

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

24 Hours On and 48 Hours Off

Most cities in the United States employ the 24 hours on and 48 hours off scheduling system for firefighters. This schedule requires firefighters to remain in a fire station for a 24-hour period and respond to fire calls at any time during this period. This shift is followed by 48 hours off, after which another 24-hour shift is required. Typically, this results in a firefighter working more than 50 hours per week. An average of ten of these 24-hour shifts are usually worked each month. An additional day off every month is arranged in order to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Shift Cycles

Though not as common as the 24-hour shifts scheduling system, some municipalities require that firefighters work for three to four days in a row. Shifts are generally during the daytime and are between eight and 12 hours per day. This schedule is followed by 12- to 14-hour night shifts for three to four days. Then, firefighters have three or four consecutive days off before the cycle begins again. Regardless of the type of shift worked, firefighters can expect to be scheduled on any of the year's 365 days.

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