Officials explain new overtime system for Horry County firefighters

Official explains new overtime system for Horry Co. firefighters

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Fire Rescue has a new mandatory overtime policy that is referred to as the "rolling mandatory" schedule and was recently mandated by fire officials.

Mark Nugent, with Horry County Fire Rescue, said the new system is similar to the old one.

"Two of the main differences are, one, they don't work more than 100 hours and basically four 24 hour shifts in about a one-month period, so we cap it at that," Nugent said. "If they get touched for that mandatory four times a month is all that's going to happen. Also, they can only work 48 hours at a time and that's something we do as a regular practice and been doing that for years as well."

The new rolling schedule is designed to match up the need to the person who will work that overtime shift, either with firefighters, EMTs, paramedics or officers. So if the need is for a fire officer, one person will be chosen from that list.

"The people in the system have the opportunity to work that if no one chooses to, then we will vote the process using mandatory overtime again to make sure we have the right resources on our apparatus to serve the community," Nugent s aid.

On Wednesday, Horry County Chairman Mark Lazarus released a statement to clarify questions people had after Tuesday night's Horry County Council meeting:

"My comments last night after the County Council meeting may not have been completely clear. I would like to clarify my statements. Horry County Fire Rescue did make a recent update to the overtime system. Here are some facts about the new system and about the current status of recruitment and retention within the department.

Recruiting: Horry County Fire Rescue graduated a recruit class of 29 in December.  A new recruit class this month of 22 started this week. We are recruiting. That's not an issue. 

Retention: We have lost paramedics. They have gone to area departments and out of state. Paramedics are at premium nationally. Horry County Fire Rescue is going to try hiring part-time paramedics. Additionally, they are going to bring paramedic training in house to speed up the process.

Required overtime: Required overtime is not unique to area departments and it is not unique to our department. Required overtime is also not unique to our organization. Public works, stormwater, detention and other departments all require overtime. The system in place with Horry County Fire Rescue allows for individuals to know at the beginning of their shift who may be required to work the following shift. The daily briefing lists those that are up for overtime for the next day.

Fire/EMS-required overtime is designed to spread the amount of hours across the organization. More than 48 hours in a row or 100 hours in a pay period is no longer allowed. This is for patient care and safety. When possible, employees working a double are shifted to a slower station for rest. In addition, if someone is up for required overtime, but they have a child care, parent care, or other personal issue, the staffing chiefs are working with them so they can take care of any issues at home."

Nugent said HCFR will continue to try and recruit new employees.

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