HEADLAND, Ala. (WDHN) — Firefighters nationwide are experiencing manpower shortages as departments are switching from a volunteer agency to a paid organization.
This has been happening in the Wiregrass for the past five to seven years.
Many businesses around the state and in the Wiregrass are running into the problem of finding people to work, and the same goes for fire departments, as they are finding ways to stay fully staffed and able to answer their calls.
“So it’s creating an issue for us,” Firefighter Paramedic for Headland Fire and Rescue, Daniel Forrester said. “So far we haven’t issues answering calls, but we are stretched thin at times.”
Forrester says that pay is not really increasing with the call volume, which is causing people not to go into the job field.
“Nationwide, everybody is seeing some manpower issues right now, we are really seeing it around the Wiregrass,” Forrester said.
As people are joining fire departments they are still having to participate in necessary training such as getting their paramedic’s license.
“The average price of getting your paramedics license is around $10,000. So nobody can really afford to do it for free anymore,” Forrester said.
Being short-staffed has caused fire departments here in the Wiregrass to work overtime, and if they were able to hire another crew it would help them immensely.
“If we could get another crew on all of the time and I think that’s every agency in the Wiregrass right now. If we could add one more crew, it would greatly reduce the load on our existing crews as far as call volume and calls per shift,” Forrester said.
Forrester also told WDHN that he encourages people to check their smoke detectors and their space heaters as we begin to enter the cooler months to keep you safe, and it may prevent a call.
“Definitely read up, brush up on your space heater safety, and make sure you are operating it in a safe manner to heat your home,” Forrester said.
The firefighter job market is expected to grow by 7.2% by 2026.