Life of a Firefighter

Roof operations

Our firefighters/paramedics work a 'California shift'. They are on duty 24 hours; off 24, on 24, off 24, on 24, off 4 days. We have 3 shifts; red, blue and green shifts; each shift staffed with 31 members. In addition to emergency response services, firefighter/paramedics continually train and take care of their stations and equipment.

Daily Schedule

Here's a typical day (all this plus responding to calls at a moment's notice):

  • Start at 0800 with roll call, update of daily events, exchange of information from the shift going off duty.
  • Perform equipment and apparatus checks.
  • Attend to station duties, such as cleaning and maintenance of equipment and stations.
  • Lunch - The firefighters pool their money and buy groceries for lunch and dinner. Some shifts have certain firefighters who usually do all the cooking because they enjoy it; other shifts rotate the cooking duties.
  • Afternoons could be spent in training, doing fire inspections of local businesses, apartments and manufacturing facilities, or participating in community events.
  • The firefighters eat dinner.
  • Stand-by time - Some firefighters use this time to complete incident reports, training or special projects, watch television, study or workout. Each station has a workout room.
  • The shift is relieved at 0800 by the oncoming shift.


Throughout the 24-hour time period, our firefighters respond to an average of 17 calls for service. 75% of our emergency calls are for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)/Paramedic service. The remaining 25% of calls are for fire suppression, extrication, confined space rescue, ice rescue, and water rescue.