WINSLOW – Winslow is dealing with a safety issue. It has a shortage of firefighters. The new Winslow fire chief and councilors met Friday afternoon to tackle the issue.
Fire Chief Ron Rodriguez has been with the Winslow fire department for four months.
He’s already dealing with a safety problem for the department. They are down two firefighters. One left for a job with the Waterville fire department and one recently suffered a long term injury.
The council has approved hiring an additional firefighter which the department can implement right now.
“That’s the objective for me, to bring our fire department up to nationally recognized safe staffing levels,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said when the individual comes back from sick leave the new hire will become a peak person.
“Working at the peak shift of daylight hours. That will help reduce any overtime somebody called in sick and at the same time help us improve our response delivery for a 911 call,” Rodriguez said.
Timing is everything. Rodriguez said when they arrive at a scene, they have to wait because they don’t have a safe staffing level.
He said a majority of the employees work two jobs or don’t have the time or commitment to dedicate to becoming trained. Winslow isn’t the only community facing this issue. Rodriguez said it’s a national problem.
“There are inherent hazards that come with the profession and they have to do the risk-benefit analysis,” said Rodriguez.
The department was recently given a grant of almost $30,000 from Firehouse Subs to purchase a new rescue boat.
“We’re paid to be prepared, you know. We’re paid to respond, we’re paid to wake up. The more that we can have resources in our tool cache the better off we’re gonna be to able to serve people,” Rodriguez said.