Fire departments battling staffing shortages amid low number of new recruits

Fire departments battling staffing shortages
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 10:21 PM CDT
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HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WBRC) - Fire departments across the state are struggling with staffing and it’s because of a shortage in applicants for first responder jobs.

The Homewood Fire Department keeps 17 firefighters staffed for each shift, but because of shortages, that means crews are working longer shifts.

President of Homewood Firefighters Association Mark Robison said they have been battling staffing shortages for months now. He said in the last two years, they have lost 30 different crew members, some to higher paying cities.

He said recruitment classes aren’t bringing in what they used to. Robison said the county used to have more than 2,000 qualifying candidates, but now it’s only about 50 to split between multiple departments in the county. He said they only had one qualifying candidate interview for their last open position.

Robison said with less people applying, it means current crews are working overtime just to keep the trucks staffed. He said they have not had unstaffed trucks so far.

“Guys are having to work 48 hour shifts because we are guaranteed those four off slots,” he said. “So, guys that have vacation planned or birthdays, in order for them to get off work, it’s having to be filled with overtime.”

Robison said the 48 hour overtime shifts can be hard on the body and taxing, especially in the summer heat.

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