INDIANA UNION: MORE FIREFIGHTERS NEEDED DESPITE STAFFING IMPROVEMENTS

“Under current manpower shortfalls, it’s challenging for first-arriving Hobart Fire Department crews to safely and effectively operate when lives hang in the balance,” said the head of Hobart’s fire union.

Chas Reilly
The Times, Munster, Ind.
Oct 24th, 2020

Hobart, IN, Fire Department

HOBART, IN—Hobart Professional Firefighters Local 1641 said it appreciates efforts to increase staffing for each shift, but the union says more manpower is needed. Fire Chief Randy Smith said staffing has improved to 14 firefighters per turn so all of Hobart’s fire stations can have personnel.

Volunteer FF Program Could Help Staff IN City’s Fire Stations

At current levels, there are three firefighters available to operate a ladder truck as well as a battalion chief at Station No. 1, according to Local 1641. At Station No. 2, there are two firefighters for a fire engine and two firefighters/paramedics available for an ambulance. There are two firefighters/paramedics staffing Station No. 3 each turn for an ambulance. At Station No. 4, there also are two firefighters available to operate a fire engine as well as two firefighters/paramedics for another ambulance. “Under current manpower shortfalls, it’s challenging for first-arriving Hobart Fire Department crews to safely and effectively operate when lives hang in the balance,” said Enrique Lopez, president of Local 1641.

Smith said the Fire Department is working to hire two more firefighters, and one person just joined the force. The plan is to have a minimum of 14 firefighters each turn, but Hobart can reach 17 firefighters working per turn as more personnel is added, Smith said.
Local 1641 believes more work is necessary to develop long-term staffing solutions. “A minimum is the absolute worst-case scenario that we should never go under,” Lopez said. “Fully staffed is how we should be operating on a daily basis, which is four on an engine and two on an ambulance at every station.”

City officials have long been considering potential long-term staffing strategies, and recent discussions have involved a possible volunteer program to supplement the full-time service already in place. Local 1641 believes the fire force should remain completely full-time. Lopez believes city leaders and the union need to examine potential new revenue streams .
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