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Airport Changing Emergency Personnel Hours

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Airport officials say their motivation is simple.

To have more safety personnel on during critical times of the day, said Don Swanson with the Eastern Iowa Airport.

So starting Saturday, firefighters and medical personnel will make the change from 24 hour shifts, to 10 hour shifts.

Officials say the 10 hour shifts will reduce fatigue for personnel, leaving them fresh to deal with emergencies. They also say it will allow them to cover the airport more efficiently.

Airport management was looking for more coverage during critical times during the day when most of our aircraft events are happening, Swanson said.

The changes mean airport emergency personnel will not be on hand from 12:30 PM to 4:30 AM. During that four hour gap, there will still be private security on site.

Firefighter union members say the four hours they wont be on site could be trouble.

We believe as a union we have a moral responsibility to protect the public, Brent Reade President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2607.

Reade says airport personnel have advantages over private security or the city fire department, from equipment to response time.

Our response time is within minutes, theirs is anywhere from eight to 10 minutes, Reade said.

Airport personnel say it's not a major concern. Between 11:30 PM and 4 AM the control tower is closed and airport activity is at a minimum. They say there are plans in place if that changes.

If there's a late flight, the officers will be held over on overtime, Swanson said.

Union members say they don't want overtime - they want to be there the entire time.

We believe our presence is a good deterrent from having bad things happen, Reade said.

Reade says the change in hours will not result in a change in pay for emergency personnel. The changes are set to go into effect 4:30 Saturday morning.
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