‘It’s going to be nice to decompress’: ACFR firefighters get ‘Kelly Days’, additional days off

Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 11:14 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After months of negotiating, Alachua County Fire Rescue will initiate an every 3-week ‘Kelly Day’, an effort to offer firefighters an opportunity to reset.

ACFR Fire Chief Harold Theus said firefighters typically work 24 hours on and 48 off. He said the name Kelly may originate from a firefighter in Chicago.

“What a Kelly Day does is, every three weeks it gives a firefighter an extra day off,” shared Chief Theus. “When their shift falls on that third week, they’re off that shift which gives them five days off in a row.”

Kelly Day guarantees firefighters an extra day off, without a cut in pay. The ACFR initiative starts on May 22nd.

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“We work really hard to make sure that our firefighters are physically well, we have workout equipment all over our stations,” stated Chief Theus. “But really more importantly, make sure they’re emotionally and mentally ready.”

The goal of Kelly Day is to reduce the amount of time a firefighter works. Officials said they are the first department north of I-4 to put this three-week Kelly Day into practice.

“After working a lot, especially after 24 hours, we come home and a lot of us have to recover from the shift, spending all night running calls,” shared ACFR Lieutenant, Alex Porges.

Chief Theus told TV20 that Kelly Day may be an innovative solution for recruiting and retaining employees in the face of a shortage of firefighters across the state.

“It’s going be nice to have a longer period of time to decompress after the rigorous schedule that the majority of us are working right now,” shares Lieutenant Porges.

Chief Theus said ACFR is offering counseling, peer support, and coaching for their employees’ mental health.

Marion County Fire Rescue officials said that since their recent events, they are reviewing ways to reduce workload and mandatory overtime to achieve a better work-life balance as well.

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