BREWER/ORRINGTON — Call volumes are up and staffing is thin. Local fire departments are sounding the alarm for solutions.
“The call volumes are going up,” said Deputy Chief Erik Tourtillotte of the Brewer Fire Department.
Tourtillotte said that increase in calls is making the fire crew busier than ever.
“A crew shift here is 24 hours — 24-hour shift on then 24 shift off,” said Tourtillotte. “Then they come in again and do another 24-hour shift.”
Tourtillotte said they receive an average of 10 to 12 calls a day.
He said the team works hard from the minute they clock in until they clock out.
“When you have a busy day, it can be a continuous thing. In this area, we get a lot of calls all at the same time. It does get very busy at times,” said Tourtillotte.
According to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant program was created to help fire departments hire, train and strengthen firefighters to protect and serve their communities.
Tourtillotte said his department applied for three positions but they are still waiting for a response.
The situation is different for the Orrington Fire Department.
“We use our on-call people to fill shifts to staff our day operations,” said Chief Scott Stewart of the Orrington Fire Department. “So some of the folks is a decent part-time job and other folks we see a few hours a week.”
Jacob King has been a volunteer firefighter at Orrington Fire Department for nearly two years.
He said due to the pandemic, he and other firefighters have worked extra shifts to keep up with the call volume.
“I don’t have a wife or kids so I can actually spend more time since I show up a lot more,” said King. “There’s a bunch of people like myself that pull extra hours. There’s a lot of us pulling.”