The firefighter’s association has sounded the alarm over the department’s staffing crisis as fire season kicks off, saying it was a struggle to provide efficient services and public safety.
According to the association, there are 77 vacancies to be filled and the figure is expected to grow in the coming months due to retirements. As a result, the daily shifts will be understaffed and the existing personnel will be forced to go above and beyond in order to respond effectively to fires, the association said.
This comes on top of the fatigue currently setting in because of the multiple incidents breaking out daily and because of the inability to fully implement operational procedures because of understaffing, which in turn exposes members of the force to excessive risks when performing their duties, it added.
The problem will be further exacerbated upon the completion of the new fire station at Vasiliko area as it will necessitate a staff of 56 firefighters who have yet to be hired, raising the department’s overall staffing requirement needs from 77 to 133.
As a result, existing personnel serving elsewhere will be transferred to the new station thus creating new understaffing pressures elsewhere, the association said.
According to the announcement, off-duty personnel are regularly being called in because many fires break out simultaneously thus leaving several fire stations without personnel. In fact, some close down completely when an incident happens as all staff, including the telephone operator, are called into action.
The granting of leave of absence during the summer season is minimal thus placing an even heavier burden on the members of the force.
“The personnel have reached their limits; their endurance has almost faded while dangers lurk daily, exposing firefighters to excessive risks,” the association said.
“There is a serious safety issue for both our staff and the public and that’s why decisions to relieve the pressure must be made and avoid any unpleasant developments.”