Fire districts face a staffing crisis
Coastside fire departments are facing a severe staffing shortage, reports Julia Scott in the County Times. More firefighters are leaving as the districts prepare for contracting with CalFire (formerly the California Department of Forestry), and the districts have not been hiring for positions that will be outsourced under the new contract. The staffing crisis could become a financial crisis as the districts find more-expensive ways to fill the gap.
But the Half Moon Bay fire department is hemorrhaging firefighters — only 22 firefighters and captains remain on staff, down from 31 in fiscal year 2006-2007, according to Half Moon Bay Fire Chief Paul Cole. Three firefighters are out on disability as well.
A preliminary estimate put the cost of filling one fire station with three state employees a day at approximately $1.1 million a year, according to Cole. He said the fire district may decide to take action on the offer this summer, especially since the other option is more overtime.