RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Firefighters in Raleigh are calling for more staff and funding as the city looks toward its next budget cycle, amid what some members of the department call a “breaking point.”
In a message posted to social media Monday evening, the Raleigh Professional Fire Fighters Association said its personnel “are greatly overworked” due to the city “not adequately staffing and funding our fire department.”
In the social media post, the organization pointed to a case this week of a ladder truck out of service due to a mechanical problem at the city’s central fire station downtown as an example of work getting backlogged and leading to problems.
Raleigh Fire Chief Herbert Griffin said the problem with the ladder truck — which has since been fixed — was due to “challenges with obtaining needed parts for repair” during the holidays, and noted this did not harm emergency responses.
But Andrew Davis, President of the Raleigh Professional Fire Fighters Association, said he remains concerned. He worries that at the current rate, problems will arise.
“For years we’ve been asking for staffing, and everyone knows how much Raleigh has been exploding in terms of development and growth,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, the fire department hasn’t kept up with that (growth) in that we haven’t gotten the allotted positions.”
CBS 17 reported earlier in December that the department saw its fewest number of applicants for jobs in years. According to Davis, the department has also seen personnel depart at a rate he described as significant — although, to date, he said there is “no reason to cause alarm” for citizens about the department’s ability to respond to emergency situations.
However, he said: “My fear is that if we don’t start hiring more positions, that in the future we may face some true staffing shortages.”
The firefighters association hopes to see changes addressed by the city council in the New Year.
“Funding and staffing must be addressed. We have gone too many years being left behind,” the organization said in its social media post.
Davis added: “We’re optimistic that we will have a fruitful budget year. That new positions will be included in the budget. That pay raises will be given (for Raleigh) to become marketable again to entice more applicants.”
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin deferred to city manager Marchell Adams-David for a comment on this story but noted Adams-David has expressed an interest in addressing challenges as part of the next budget cycle.
A city spokesperson said Adams-David was not available for a comment Tuesday.