PORTSMOUTH — During a Portsmouth City Council meeting, community members spoke on their concerns with emergency response teams being low staffed.
Brian Hicks, President of the Portsmouth Firefighters Union, spoke regarding his concern with low staff.
“We just want to make sure our city is adequately taken care of in their time of need,” said Hicks.
Hicks said the station has had its largest amount of runs during the month of August and a few days before the end of September they were only a few runs away from meeting that same number they experienced in August.
“We’re trying to do the best with can with the call volume and the amount of overlapping calls,” said Hicks.
In the past few weeks alone there were two fires the squads were called out to. The downtown squad was staffed due to people working overtime on their day off to go to a house in Sciotoville. During the second fire, the Sciotoville staff had to come cover for downtown because they were already tied up with a fire.
“I can site examples all night long where our department was stretched very thin and got lucky,” said Hicks. “I enjoy being able to go to my kid’s ball games and have a life outside of work but as of right now members, including myself, don’t have that.”
As of right now, Hicks said staff is being held over or asked to work overtime just to be able to run two ambulances in town at the same time.
Eric Grimm, Secretary Treasurer of the Portsmouth Professional Firefighters Association, said they are likely to receive over 400 calls per month by October.
“With this increase, we have seen our available resources being stretched beyond limits,” said Grimm. “We have fire instances with only one engine responding, EMS calls getting stacked forcing them to leave the hospital quickly to respond to the next, an increase of our engines having to cover each others territories for runs, and medical emergencies going unanswered for an extended amount of time due to no units being available.”
Grimm said the temporary solution would be to take all of the unassigned firefighters they have on shift and assign them to Medic 2 which would effectively create another unit but they are already short staffed due to injuries, medical leave, and resignations.
“The union, fire chief, and local, would encourage the city council to consider the proposal to have three extra men, not only to have more firefighters but to be able to do their jobs without facing exhaustion and danger that is unnecessary and to be able to protect the citizens of this city who at this moment are probably unaware that they are relying on the luck of us not getting more than one call at the same time,” Grimm said.
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at email@example.com.
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