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Central Va. fire departments continue to face staffing shortages

Firefighters in the area are struggling to keep up amid staffing shortages.
Firefighters in our area are struggling to keep up, amid staffing shortages.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 7:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Firefighters in our area struggle to keep up amid staffing shortages. Across the area, Richmond Fire had five engines short-staffed on Friday, 10 on Saturday and nine on Sunday. They’re worried about what these staffing shortages could mean for the community’s safety.

Richmond Fire Association said no relief has come since they sent a letter to the city at the beginning of June.

“Unfortunately, Philadelphia just a firefighter death yesterday. We never want that to happen anywhere, but I am worried about, you know, an event like that happening to my firefighter brothers and sisters,” said Keith Andes of the Richmond Fire Association.

By the end of the month, they anticipate having to pay $4 million of overtime to firefighters. With the summer months coming, swift water teams are taking a big hit with a lack of staff.

“Swift water teams are being cut to 3 folks as well, and so it’s just on the safety not only of our personnel but of visitors and the citizens of Richmond,” Andes explained.

Petersburg Fire Association said its department is also facing shortages. Its current budget allows for 67 positions, and right now, there are only 52 positions filled.

“We must have 17 members each day to staff four engines, one truck company and one shift commander position,” stated James Vick, president of the Petersburg Fire Association.

The association said the problem is a health and safety concern for firefighters at increased risk for cancer, suicide and sleep deprivation as they continue to feel the burnout of working overtime.

“It effects everybody’s lives. It effects your family’s life. It effects what you had planned for the day, what your children had planned for the day,” said Vick.

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