Roswell fire department adopts 48-96 schedule to improve firefighters' work-life balance

Being a firefighter often means being on the clock for 24 hours straight, followed by 48 hours off. However, fire stations across the country are rethinking this traditional schedule to help improve work-life balance for their firefighters. 

The Roswell Fire Department has recently adopted the 48-96 schedule as part of this shift.

Traditionally, fire stations use what is known in the industry as the 24/48 work schedule, where firefighters work 24 hours on the clock followed by 48 hours off.

Joe Pennino, a firefighter, explained, "The problem that creates is sleep deprivation in the long term… and then you have to get up early the next day to shift change and then go home." 

These irregular sleep patterns often lead to systemic health issues for firefighters, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental health disorders like PTSD and anxiety.

The 48/96 schedule, which translates to 48 hours on followed by four days off, aims to address these sleep-related issues. 

The larger shift windows allow for longer and more consistent sleep. Pennino noted, "It's been around on the West Coast for a while… could be very beneficial to the men and women that serve this city."

Station 21 in Roswell is the first station in Georgia to adopt the 48/96 schedule and the first nationwide to pair it with an 11 a.m. start time. Firefighters at the station are optimistic about the change. Firefighter Dierdorff shared, "Love the city even more… lessening your life for this city."

The City of Roswell supports the station's initiative and is committed to the well-being of their first responders. A city official stated, "This is something that is gonna help to set Roswell further apart from its sister cities… a recruiting tool for the fire department."

The pilot program will last six months, during which officials plan to evaluate its impact using data from doctors, operational efficiency, and overall job satisfaction.