Fire chief won’t allow firefighters to sleep during new 24-hour shift

When he opposed the Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) Professional Fire Fighters Association request for 24-hour shifts, Chief Mike Figliola was concerned about sleep deprivation and the impact on firefighters being able to do their jobs. Now that the city lost the arbitration and must implement 24-hour shifts, Chief Figliola is depriving his firefighters of sleep.

Kenneth Armstrong,

“This is what they requested. They assured us the work could be done in a 24 hour period, that they could be sharp for the 24 hour period,” said fire chief Mike Figliola.

Asked by Ward 5 councillor Frank Fata if the expectation was for firefighters to be awake during an entire 24 hour shift, Figliola responded, “yes I would.”

Reached by phone tonight, SSMPFFA president Marty Kenopic said he is not sure why firefighters would be prevented from sleeping during their shift — because that is already the norm during the current 15-hour shifts and the reason fire halls have beds.

“It’s always a concern that we get proper rehab, especially when we’re fighting fires. We have to circulate the crews through to do the rehab. I would think that concern would be paramount with the fire management,” said Kenopic.

Indeed, management’s position during the negotiation process stated 24 hour-long shifts were ‘dangerous’ due to the potential for sleep deprivation.

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Elaine Della-Mattia,

But Human Resources commissioner Peter Niro said the move often means increased overtime costs, sick time usage and a decrease in overall engagement and motivation.

It can also impact training delivery schedules, which could result in less effective program delivery and retention, council was told.

“This is a disappointing award. We’ve lost in every respect,” said Mayor Christian Provenzano.

He told city council that they may face a bigger issue with firefighting services getting even more expensive.

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