Firefighters Swap Shifts But Don’t Always Repay Favors

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Journalist Walter Robinson has in recent years carved out a whole beat uncovering problems at the Boston Fire Department.

There was the widespread manipulation of the disability pension system. There was the firefighter who was claiming disability while moonlighting as a bodybuilder. And there was the report on the de-facto racial segregation of firefighters.

Now comes shift-swapping. In a Boston Globe article Sunday, Robinson and a team of journalists lay out how some Boston firefighters are asking colleagues to trade shifts. In essence, it's a kind of "I'll cover your shift if you'll cover mine" deal that enables firefighters to organize their schedules to what suits their needs best.

But the "swap" part is the problem — because as Robinson and his team revealed, some firefighters are not repaying the favor, leading to a debt that in some cases amounts to months, even years, of work paid but never earned.


  • Walter Robinson, distinguished professor of journalism, Northeastern University; former editor of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team

This segment aired on January 31, 2011.


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