So Much for Mission Critical
Statter 9/11 highlighted a California newspaper editorial this weekend outing the apparent ridiculousness of firefighters having a regular duty shift of 48 hours followed by 96 hours off.
The writer, Diana Diamond, seems no friend of firefighters, but that hardly matters when she’s right.
48/96 is the unassailable triumph of reckless greed not only over professionalism, but Labor integrity and wisdom, as well.
What other critical peacetime profession regularly assigns personnel to be on duty for two straight days?
You Can Fool Some of the People
We love to tell the public, and each other, just how essential we are.
I have read firefighters commenting on their “razor sharp skills.”
How important or essential can your skills be if you can practice them for 48 hours?
Who would want a heart valve replacement by a surgeon on her 45th hour on duty?
Want to board an airplane with a flight crew starting hour 40?
How about a police officer rolling up on a robbery on hour 47?
The very idea is absurd and outlandish yet we managed to convince ourselves we are somehow different.
Diamond says the IAFF is pushing the 48/96 agenda.
If true, it is but the latest example of a union lacking leadership and foresight.
It’s running our “profession”, if we can still call it that, right off the cliff by loudly proclaiming that we do so little that we can do it forever.
There is a robust body of literature concerning work/rest cycles and the very real dangers of the role that fatigue plays in workplace accidents and incidents.
Any leader, labor or management, who chooses to ignore the obvious, and commonsense, too, has abandoned the profession entirely.
They have also abrogated their responsibility to be informed and to think and plan strategically.
The Exact Wrong Move
We are on the cusp of revolutionary technological change.
Self-driving machines, unmanned aerial vehicles and robotics will change the landscape utterly.
Coupled with emerging fire extinguishing technologies, the future of firefighters, at least as we have known it, is very seriously in doubt.
Of course, it won’t happen overnight, but rather one inexorable step at a time.
It cannot be halted, only slowed.
What rationale would slow it?
Why, the importance of humans, of course.
But, there’s a problem with that.
If you can do what you do for two days in a row, a robot can do it better.
With 48/96, we have surrendered our most potent defense, ourselves, before the first shot was even fired.
Enjoy it, while it lasts.