Consideration of 5 Canadian Forces Fire Fighter Shift Schedules


  1. Paul, M.A.
  2. Miller, J.C.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN)
DRDC Toronto received a BL-2 tasking from the CF Fire Marshall to assess 5 different fire fighter schedules, along with a request for DRDC Toronto to recommend which of the 5 schedules is “optimum”. Any skilled performance or safety critical performance should occur when personnel are operating at their best. Best performance is normally considered to mean between 100% and 90% cognitive effectiveness. When performance declines to 90%, it is time to cease skilled operations and get some rest. The duty times, and the sleep times for each of the 5 shift schedules were used as inputs to the FAST (Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool) Program (a modelling program which calculates cognitive effectiveness as a function of duty and rest cycles). Each of the 5 shift schedules was modelled in 2 ways; 1) first with no fires/emergencies, and 2) subsequently with nocturnal alarms occurring at 0200 hrs and the fire fighters returning to the fire hall at 0500 hrs. With no fires/emergencies all 5 schedules resulted in similar small impacts on cognitive effectiveness (from 84% to 88%) just before retiring for bed around 2300 hrs. The nocturnal alarms caused some attrition of cognitive effectiveness on the subsequent day which ranged from 82% to 79%, and after several days (for schedules 1, 2, and 3) cognitive effectiveness declined further to the 72% to 68% range. Schedules 4 and 5 did not involve successive duty days. During the first duty night, an alarm on either schedule 4 or schedule 5

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CF Fire Figher Shift Schedules;Sustainment of Cognitive Effectiveness
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-TR-2005-227 — Technical Report
Date of publication
01 Oct 2005
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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