9OYS Continuing Coverage
"We will burn people out": Kozachik against longer hours at 911 call center
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The 911 call center revamped after 9OYS helped expose a pattern of problems last year. Now the Tucson Fire Department is in charge and things have improved, but a potential change in the works is raising new concerns about the center and possibly your safety.
The Tucson Fire Department is considering changing the shift schedules for 911 operators and dispatchers. Right now, they work four 10 hour days. The move would make employees work four 12 hour days.
Councilman Steve Kozachik came out in strong opposition to the schedule change. He calls it a huge step in the wrong direction. The council discussed the issue in Wednesday's study session. Union representatives were in attendance. They say members have voiced concern because they were brought to the table late. They are asking for more input on the process.
Kozachik says this type of job is stressful enough that it isn't suited for 12 hour work days because call takers should be alert at all times. He warned it could have an impact on an already troublesome staffing situation. The 911 call center is already 10 employees down.
"I would hate to be the guy calling on the 4th day of some body's 48 hour work week, 11 hours into that shift and hope that person is sharp," Kozachik said. "These just aren't the type of jobs we can ask someone to work 12 hour work shifts. If the goal is to get someone familiar with their supervisors you [TFD] should be pounding on his [City Manager Richard Miranda's] desk saying give me the funding capacity to put these people on eight hour shifts and not extend it out to 12 because we will be burning people out and they will be hemorrhaging out the door."
No decision has been made yet. The fire department plans to continue meeting with work groups. The earliest any change could be seen is January.