WHY YOU SHOULD HELP
Lynchburg Fire Fighters are committed to pursuing interests that support a safe and prosperous community, improving working conditions and safety through application of industry standard resources, and improving compensation and benefit packages that will attract and retain a highly qualified and competent workforce that is available to serve you in your time of need. The work we do is aimed at bridging the gap between workers’ rights and their employers’ expectations, while promoting fair treatment of first responders for the very real risks, dangers and sacrifices made answering the call of hazardous duty public service. We ensure our partners are empowered by creating opportunities for individuals to join forces and lend their voice in the decision-making process, but more importantly - we engage our community to act through the civic process and ensure public policy promotes public safety as an essential service for securing a great place to live, work and play.
Contact your council member today, and tell them to eliminate wasteful spending that impedes strategic growth for public safety in our community. Tell them that you are behind us, and now is the time to act and fix a decade of compensation compression that has imposed a drastic fiscal burden on our essential first responders and their families, and tell them to act before we lose more highly qualified emergency responders to other jurisdictions and the private sector, creating an experience and credentialing gap like we have never seen in a profession where it's matter of life or death, that may be you or your loved ones.
Sleep Review, The Journal for Sleep Specialists, recently curated content from Fire Engineering titled Addicted to Awake: Sleep Deprivation in the Fire Service. In a study of 6,933 firefighters across 66 departments in the United States conducted at Harvard Medical School, research concluded that 40% of firefighters suffer from a sleep disorder, and 80% of those affected were either undiagnosed or unaware of the disorder. Validated research shows that sleep deprivation significantly increases risk for cancer, suicidal ideation and behavior, and cardiac arrest. Your chance of suffering a fatal heart attack increases by 200% if you sleep less than 6 hours a night. This is an issue your life may literally depend on, and is something the local should be taking head on. Sleep deprivation also affects Firefighter burnout and workplace safety, recently highlighted by the U.S. Fire Administration as a current event and emergent issue. The authors recommend three steps to improve sleep in our profession:
- Install red lights in every firehouse for evening use to support the circadian rhythm.
- Departments should ensure a daily rest and recovery time dedicated to unplugging, napping, or doing Sleep Recovery Practices™.
- Every leader, formal and informal, should shift the dialogue and attitude about rest, promoting sleep hygiene understanding that being rested optimizes performance.
"You will die faster from sleep deprivation than starvation. We value eating, so no matter how busy our schedules become, crews make time to sit down and eat. Yet, when our schedules become grueling, the first thing sacrificed is sleeping adequately or enforcing a nap. The glorification of “powering through” on three hours needs to stop!" (Toomey & Toomey, 2018)
We have seen training in our profession evolve over time to adapt to workforce trends and the needs of the department. While the training division has done an excellent job facilitating an Emergency Medical Training Advisory Group (EMTAG), revamping our training center, coordinating regularly-scheduled facilities training, and hosting grant funded Active Attack Integrated Response training, we are losing valuable experience steadily, and it is becoming all too routine that our ability to train on the clock is hindered by call volume - creating an opportunity for scheduling officers to execute mandatory overtime staffing for scheduled training. Furthermore, members completing voluntary training off shift designed to make them handle their job more effectively are not consistently compensated for training hours worked. This inconsistent approach to overtime and comp time approvals for training discourages our newest members from taking the initiative to attend additional training that could make them more effective or efficient in the duties outlined in their job class specification, in sharp contrast to opinion from the Department of Labor for compensable training time.