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Jasper Fire Department struggling with low staffing levels

Some are concerned this places both firefighters and the community in greater danger
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 8:24 PM CDT
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JASPER, Ala. (WBRC) - Concern now mounting in Jasper regarding fire department staffing levels.

This comes on the heels of a fire that occurred Wednesday and nearly took a turn for the worst. A grease fire began in the kitchen, and once crews began battling the blaze, disaster struck.

A hose busted, and some of the crew struggled to escape the smoke filled home. One firefighter’s helmet was almost unrecognizable as he exited the home. While everyone made it out alive, it was too close a call for comfort and several are now pointing to the lack of staff as a key issue.

One of the helmets used by jasper fire fighters as they fought a Wednesday grease fire
One of the helmets used by jasper fire fighters as they fought a Wednesday grease fire(WBRC)

WE spoke with the chief to gain some insight on the issue, and he says the department is currently at 66% staffing capacity. Usually they will have nine firefighters on a shift, right now they only have six. A fact that is backed up on the department’s website. The smaller staff undoubtedly means several are trying to pick up the slack, but could that put them in greater danger?

We spoke with someone else who asked not to be identified, and they stress the department is really a revolving door. The pay and benefits don’t compare to neighboring municipalities and many leave to find more comfortable situations. The interest in joining the department has also dipped. Decades ago, forty to seventy applicants would show interest, that number is now as low as five.

Several of those we spoke with believe the city will have to make some changes to fix the issue. City leaders hosted a workshop Friday, and several we spoke with in the community believe this will be a major topic at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

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