An interesting story from “across the pond” sheds light on what may at times seem like a local issue for many fire service leaders across the United States. According to Newstalk, an online news service based out of Dublin, Ireland, the Dublin Fire Brigade is suffering from severe understaffing and an unreasonable reliance on firefighter overtime.
The Dublin Fire Brigade is the largest full-time fire brigade in Ireland. The brigade staffs 12 full-time stations, two part-time stations, regional dispatch, and a training center. The brigade is an all-hazards operation providing fire suppression, emergency ambulance and rescue services, marine operations, hazardous materials response, and fire prevention.
According to Newstalk, Ireland’s capital city’s fire brigade was understaffed “two out of every three days” during the month of September. The brigade requires a total of 180 firefighters and support personnel to operate during daytime shifts. However, on September 10, the brigade was forced to operate with only 135 personnel. As a result, six fire “appliances” [apparatus] were forced out of service. Additionally, two ambulances had to be removed from service for two separate days during the month of September due to the chronic staffing shortages.
According to the union that represents the city’s firefighters, staffing shortages and an over-reliance on overtime have fatigued firefighters and paramedics to the point that it is impacting the health and safety of both the firefighters and the general public. Brigade officials announced that a total of eighty recruits have already been hired this year and another thirty recruits will finish training in the next several weeks. Additionally, the brigade has begun a recruitment drive to hire more fighters.
Whether the headline originates from Florida, Maine, California, or even Dublin, Ireland the story certainly seems to be the same… Firefighter overtime can be both a blessing and a curse to both firefighters and fire departments. The challenges associated with recruitment, retention, and managing firefighters’ hours worked is not unique to this country.
Click here for more on the story from Newstalk.
Also, click here for a link to the Dublin Fire Brigade’s website. Pretty interesting stuff if you ask me.