Officials say that as wildfire season gets off to a major start in Northern California and looms in the state’s south, fire departments are facing a statewide personnel shortage.
Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles said firefighters were overworked because of a shortage of firefighters in California.
“We catch them three, four days in a row, sometimes five days in a row,” Boyles told The Epoch Times.
“We let them go home for a day or two and then they come back for three, four or five days and they are burning. As a chief, I should look at their morale, pay attention to their mental health, their physical health. [If] They’re still tired, they can’t perform.”
The shortage occurred during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by delays and freezes. Last year with budget constraints, early exit plans were offered to personnel nearing retirement.
Boyles said many qualified firefighters were quickly checking out, with no new jobs, adding that it takes about six months for firefighters to board the ship.
The unavailability of medical testing requirements amid the closure of doctor’s offices during the peak of the pandemic also resulted in delays in onboarding new employees.
With wildfires moving north, Orange County personnel are rushing upstairs to help. However, due to an already acute shortage of firefighters, the situation in the south has worsened.
“We already have very few employees here at home, which only adds to the problem,” Boyles said. “Where it is affecting that our employees are having to work an additional shift; They basically don’t go home.”
Orange County Fire Authority spokesman Greg Barta told The Epoch Times that amid the need for firefighters, the state was at high risk of a fire caused by dry vegetation due to low rainfall, which could lead to devastating wildfires.
“The urban interface where we have homes and communities that are bordered and pushed right next to the wooded area, where there is a significant amount of brush, are the areas that concern us most,” Barta said.
Despite the need for more personalization, Boyles says there is no impact on the services provided by the fire department, especially when residents dial 911.
Training for onboarding potential personnel is being carried out over the winter, with recruitment for entry-level firefighters starting again last August.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times