SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Firefighters with the Sacramento Fire Department say they’re overworked and need more resources as the city continues to grow.
“We have a significant staffing shortage,” said Roberto Padilla, spokesperson for Sacramento Area Firefighters Local 522.
In the middle of an active fire season and increased calls for service, Padilla told FOX40 Saturday that the firefighter shortage resulted in fire engines being without crews Friday afternoon.
“What happened yesterday, was the brownout of multiple companies throughout the city, is something that has happened over 150 times this year already,” explained Padilla.
The brownout means the department has had to shift resources around to different stations and engines throughout the city, and Padilla says that happens a lot more frequently than he would like to see and just hurts the community in the long run.
“Yesterday, we had four rigs parked, so that’s a significant impact to the safety of the community and that’s one of our main concerns,” Padilla explained.
The union says the department being short-staffed is nothing new to the city, but immediately following their complaints Friday, they got some good news from Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan.
“It’s almost being approached with like an emergency-like manner and there will be an academy in the fall,” Padilla said.
As of Saturday, the Sacramento Fire Department has about 600 employees, but needs around 25 to 50 more to be fully staffed, but they continue to lose employees due to retirement and injuries.
Sacramento Fire Captain Keith Wade told FOX40 the fall’s accelerated lateral academy will train experienced firefighters and they’re hoping to hire 12 to 15 more people.
“They’ll be ready to hit the streets after about 10 weeks,” Wade explained. “So, it’s very shortened from the 22 weeks that a new person coming in who has no firefighting experiencing, we have to train them from the ground level. These firefighters have the basics and the necessary tools.”
While the firefighter union believes this upcoming academy will help the department, they say they still need more fire engines, stations and equipment.