What is a “Kelly Day” for the Fire Department?

A “Kelly day” is a day off that firefighters get sometimes to cut down on budget-busting overtime. It’s not clear where the name comes from, but the Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2 says that the name comes from a story about a Chicago mayor named Kelly who gave the firefighters a day off after seven days of work.

Most of the time, firefighters work in shifts with long hours, such as one 24-hour shift followed by two days off. In the 1930s and 1940s, labour laws and standard pay periods were made. Because of this, one team had an extra shift during a 28-day pay period.

When a team works more than 212 hours in 28 days, that is considered overtime, and they must either get a full shift off or be paid overtime. This day off is Kelly’s day. Even though departments with four teams don’t need Kelly days, the term may still be used for days off.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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