Gadsden's fire chief has started closing fire stations due to a personnel shortage. Chief Steve Carroll says his department is short by 16 people.
"Our fiscal year overtime budget was not enough [to cover] that many shortages until we can get them back here. So we had to start downsizing a few units," Carroll said.
Friday, Station #2 at the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport, and Station #8 in the Clubview Heights area on Rainbow Drive, were closed when there weren't enough firefighters on the schedule to operate them. Those same two were closed Monday, although Station #2 partially reopened over the weekend. But they may reopen soon while others close.
"They won't be the same units every day, sometimes we won't have to shut down an entire unit," Carroll says. "It just depends how many we've got, that we're short that day to man those units."
Carroll says a perfect storm of situations combined to result in the manpower shortage.
The city offered early retirement to a number of senior employees, so a number of senior firefighters took advantage of the offer. Then the city decided to hold off until after the first of the year to hire new workers due to changes in the state retirement fund, which handles the worker's retirement benefits.
Carroll says three firefighters are also out of work on injury leave.
And he says it could be awhile before the situation is resolved. Not only are new hires delayed until January 1, but they'll have to go through extensive training before they can be certified to be on the street.
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