What Is a Fire Department “Kelly Day”?

A “Kelly day” is an unusual day off that firemen receive to prevent overtime from damaging the budget. The origin of the term is debatable, although according to Local 2 of the Chicago Firefighters Union, the name comes from a Chicago mayor called Kelly who offered the firemen a day off after seven days on duty.

Typically, firefighter shifts consist of one 24-hour shift followed by two days off, with three teams. With the development of labour legislation in the 1930s and 1940s and the standardisation of pay periods, one team had an extra shift during a 28-day pay period. Work in excess of 212 hours in 28 days constitutes overtime; therefore, the team must either receive a complete shift off or be compensated overtime pay. This off-shift day belongs to Kelly. Departments with four teams do not require Kelly days, but may still use the name to refer to days off.

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