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Some Valley Fire employees adjust hours

Sat., July 12, 2008

Alternative 9/80 schedule saves on gasoline

Some Spokane Valley Fire Department administrators and workers are saving gasoline with a new work schedule.

Fifteen of them began working nine hours a day on June 30 so they can have an extra day off every other week.

Under the new “9/80” schedule, they work nine hours on Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays, they work eight hours one week and have the day off in the next week.

The 9/80 workers are divided into two groups that take their extra days off on different Fridays so the office doesn’t have to close.

“It’s really actually working pretty well,” Human Resources Director Valerie Biladeau said.

She said she saves a 52-mile round trip every other week, and a co-worker saves 55 miles. A few workers live relatively close to the department headquarters at 10319 E. Sprague Ave., but a substantial number commutes from the Spokane South Hill and Mead areas, Biladeau said.

The only hitch so far has been that previously scheduled vacations have required some of the extra time off to be taken on days other than Fridays, she said.

The new schedule applies only to administrators, information systems workers and mechanics. Other day-shift workers – all in the marshal’s office – already worked four 10-hour days per week and didn’t want to switch, Biladeau said.

Firefighters, who live at their stations during extended shifts, also didn’t change their schedules. They work one day and have the next off.

Biladeau said some of the 15 workers on the new 9/80 schedule had expressed interest in switching to a 4/10 arrangement. But Chief Mike Thompson suggested the 9/80 instead “because 10 hours working in the office makes for a very long day.”

Biladeau said she expects alternatives to the standard work week to become more common as gasoline prices rise, “and probably there will be a lot more flexibility to work from home for the jobs that can.”

There will be no telecommuting for Biladeau and her colleagues, however.

“The 15 of us really have to be hands-on,” she said.

John Craig may be contacted at johnc@spokesman.com.


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