I'd say ask the IAFF. They've been getting their members compensation for sleeping for years now.
The Federal Labor Law is specific on sleep time. It is highlighted in Section 7(k). Sleep time can be deducted from MUNICIPAL providers for no longer than 8 hours during shifts of no more than 24 hours. If during this AGREED UPON time there is a "call to duty" that time must be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay. If during the designated sleep time the employee cannot obtain a reasonable amount of sleep (four consecutive hours) than the employee must be paid thier regular salary for the entire sleep time period. It is important to note that under 7(k) municipal firefighters, working 24 hour shifts, are exempt from sleep time, as well as the regular "over 40 overtime" rules. EMT's and Paramedics working for a municipality are exempt ONLY if they are "trained in fire suppression and fire suppresion is a duty and a responsibility". Those Medics working in the civillian capacity for municipal fire departments are required to be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 and may be subjected to sleep time rules. Those in the private sector are to be paid for time worked. PRIVATE PROVIDERS CANNOT DEDUCT SLEEP TIME REGARDLESS OF THEIR RESPONSE OBLIGATION. We recently had a large local provider lose a Dept. of Labor and FLSA lawsuit for deducting sleep time for medics who were working 24 hour rotations but answering municipal 911 calls. The DoL made it clear that the service provider was a private entitiy and thus not subject to 7(k) exemptions.
You are "engaged to wait" according to the fact sheet, meaning that while you are may not be working all the time during your work period you must still be paid.
As for sleeping hours you must be working more than 24 hours AND be given 5 to 8 hours of usually uninterrupted sleep. Meaning that you can not awakened for anything.
If you have questions regarding interpretation of the law call the number at the bottom.
Additionally, my first EMS job was with an employer who also took advantage of me because I wanted a job in EMS so badly I was willing to work part of my shift for free.There, fixed the original post for you. :)
This has already been stated, but it's my opinion as well...if you're there, away from your family and home, you're on the job and should be payed regular wage to do so. I never understood the services that call 0000-0008 "down time". Down time, huh? Soooo, when the pager goes off, you tell dispatch to send another unit because you're on your down time? Bullshit. You're there, expected to go from tones to wheels rolling in 120 seconds, you're on duty, not down time. Like it's not enough that EMS wages across the country suck to begin with, they expect you to do 1/3 of your shift for free.
Here's the passage that counts:
"Sleeping Time and Certain Other Activities: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least 5 hours of sleep is taken."
A couple of questions that need to be answered.
1. Do you have "adequate sleeping facilities"?
2. Can you "usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep"? I would assume this to mean that most nights, you are not being called out.
3. Are you union - do you have a collective bargaining agreement? If you do , this should be addressed there. Also , check your state labor laws, as they may be more stringent than the federal labo laws stated above. I think that most employers pay the entire time as it is a way for them to retain good employees - you can always vote with your feet and find employment elsewhere.