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Triad fire crews battle staffing shortages during busiest time of year

Piedmont Triad News

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Firefighters are bracing for the busiest time of the year — with a number of vacancies.

“It’s challenging times as far as staffing right now,” High Point Deputy Fire Chief Brian Evans said.

Responding to fire and other 911 calls is getting tougher each day for High Point firefighters.

People are retiring, leaving the profession or just not applying like they used to.

“We just recently ran a process to hire 15 people. We normally averaged about 4-500 applicants for the positions. This last process we had just over 100 applicants,” Evans said.

Right now, the High Point Fire Department has 19 vacancies. They have a staff of 238.

In order to meet the demand, firefighters are working double shifts when no one is available to fill in. Some of the crew is averaging 22 hours of overtime a week.

“We are noticing that — not a lot — but we are noticing some burnout from folks, from working their mandatory overtime,” Evans said.

With winter arriving crews expect to see an uptick in calls.

“I think the men and women are up for the challenge, we’re going to respond no matter what the call is. We’re going to make sure all the citizens are served across the city with the same amount of service that the men and women do every day,” Evans said.

While many departments work with other agencies to reduce staffing shortages, High Point Fire doesn’t, because they hold their own certified training in house, which takes about 26 weeks to do.

About a dozen fire academy trainees are set to graduate on Nov. 29.

The city of High Point is not the only city dealing with staffing shortages.

Greensboro Fire has 10 vacancies out of 587 people, while Winston-Salem Fire will have 13 vacancies once they graduate their class.

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