Getting firefighters has been tough for fire departments world wide

Labor shortages have hit nearly every sector of the workforce

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Labor shortages have hit nearly every sector of the workforce.

Fire stations around the world are having trouble getting firefighters to join their staff, but for those who can take the heat; training is closer to home.

Columbus Fire and Rescue’s staff numbers have been down since the beginning of the pandemic and that’s forced changes to routines.

“We went from large group training sessions to just smaller company training sessions. Our technical rescue program some of them had to shut down because we shared facepieces and could not clean them properly,” said a captain with Columbus Fire and Rescue, Shannon Murphy.

Firefighter Kameron Pearson and Murphy knew the difficulties of not being able to get the typical training for firefighters in Mississippi.

“I couldn’t go directly to the academy in Jackson so we had to do an in-field academy in Starkville so worried about getting my certifications, worried about getting everything I needed to be able to do my job was stressful at times,” said Pearson.

With empty slots unfilled, those already onboard are often left pulling extra shifts.

“When we’re up here for multiple days at a time 42 hours, 72, 96 hours in a row it does interrupt with anything from eating a family meal together to sports activities,” said Murphy.

To keep prospects from having to relocate to Jackson for seven weeks to attend the Fire Academy; Starkville fire chief Charles Yarbrough began holding local training sessions.

“Number one is to save money for the city.. cuts overtime costs and then the biggest thing is we get an opportunity to see what our firefighters can do from a hands-on standpoint,” said Yarbrough.

The Starkville fire department is holding its 3rd in-house training to get firefighters from the Golden Triangle ready to serve their communities.

“We have 13 here. We have eight here in Starkville, Columbus sent two or three and I think West Point sent a couple as well. What we’ll do because when they’re done they go back to their home department and we’ll keep our guys and girls here,” said Yarbrough.

Although some staff isn’t certified to do certain tasks, the team appreciates having them on board.

“The people that we have can’t get certified so they might not be able to go in a structure right now, but we have amazing people and it’s amazing that people are still applying even though what is going on,” said Pearson.

The Columbus Fire and Rescue team needs 15 firefighters to complete their team; while Starkville needs six. Anyone interested is encouraged to reach out to the department of your choice for an application.

Categories: Local News