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19153 – Firefighter shifts

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Ref: FOI/19153


I am writing to confirm that the West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information you requested on 9th November 2019.

Please find below a summary of our findings.


Does your service have a formal system that allows uniformed operational staff swap shifts. For example a firefighter who is due to work a Saturday can swap his work day with a firefighter who is rostered off?

If so, does your service record these swaps and keep a running tally of the swaps for the individuals?

What happens when one resigns or retires. Does your service have a way of dealing with any positive or negative balances for these swaps. For example the swap mentioned above what would happen if either of them then resigned or retired before the “pay back of the swap”. Would the firefighter who got Saturday off have his final pay reduced because he never paid his day off back to the other firefighter? Or if the firefighter who worked the extra shift then retired or resigned. Would he receive a days pay for working the Saturday and the Firefighter that got the day off have to work a day to pay back the day off he got?


Any exchange of shift should be like for like the following applies when exchanging shifts

If someone comes in off an annual/public leave to cover someone who needs to book annual/public leave, the payback is treated the same the person comes in on their annual/public leave

If someone can come in from another watch on a rota day the person who requires the day books a rota day and then they pay the shift back by coming in on one of their rota days.

Skills should also be like for like, to ensure the right skills are on duty to mobilise an appliance.

Exchange of shifts are recorded on SMART, West Midlands Fire Services time and attendance system, as the roster needs to be updated to show a person on duty and showing in the staffing numbers. Notes are made in roster change to record who are undertaking the exchange.

No tally’s / balances are currently kept for exchanges of shifts, they are visible on the roster attendance screens

When organising an exchange of shift, a payback date is normally arranged, if either parties are due to retire/resign the line manager should ensure the shifts are sorted.

An exception for the change of shift like for like rule, would be the shift timing in that one can exchange a day shift and the payback could be a night shift

If you have any queries about this Freedom of Information request, please contact us. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

For service complaints, issues or comments regarding this request please contact The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW

Further information concerning Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Information Commissioner website at either the following link: or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF.