Ohio fire union warns low staffing 'could mean life or death'
The Riverside Fire Department is busier than ever, and at the same time, has the lowest staffing levels the department has ever seen
Dayton Daily News
RIVERSIDE, Ohio — The Riverside Fire Department is busier than ever, and at the same time, has the lowest staffing levels the department has ever seen.
The city plans to apply for a federal grant that would let them hire three more full-time firefighters. But, even if they get the grant, those positions would not start until 2020.
News Center 7’s Kate Bartley spoke with the union representing Riverside firefighters, who said the city has a problem now that can’t wait until next year.
“It could potentially be dangerous,” said International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2938 President Josh Gwin. “With one ‘threat to life’ call, that completely depletes our resources.”
In 2016, he said Riverside’s fire department had nine firefighters working every day. They went on 4,400 calls, with 16 full-time and 40 part-time staff members.
In 2018, the department was down to seven firefighters a day, but up to 4,800 calls. Full-time staff stayed the same, but part-time staff members dropped to 18.
Gwin said it's nearly impossible for Riverside, and many other departments, to recruit and keep part-timers.
“We need to transition into an all-career department and add additional staffing. That way we can provide the level of service to the citizens that they deserve,” Gwin said.
Riverside Fire Chief Dan Stitzel addressed city leaders about staffing problems at last week’s city council meeting, including one day in particular “within an hour and a half of that structure fire, we had nine other calls in the city.”
The city had to rely on several other departments to pick up calls.
“That’s increased response time. And that increased response time could mean life or death,” Gwin said.
City Manager Mark Carpenter said the city will apply for a grant, and that after the federal grant ends they plan to keep those positions.
The city is working on its grant application right now.
At this point, they don’t have funds in place to increase the number of full-time positions.
Copyright 2019 Dayton Daily News
McClatchy-Tribune News Service