Staffing vacancies at the South Burlington Fire Department are causing a concern for career firefighters. Yet the city manager says it’s under control.
Eleven months ago, a vacancy came up at the South Burlington Fire Department. It is still not filled. Now three positions are currently vacant, plus one on long term leave and another in the military.
Captain Micah Genzlinger, the Union President for the South Burlington Career Firefighters Association said he’s surprised it’s taken this long to fill the spots.
“I am frustrated,” Captain Genzlinger said. “I think we are all frustrated. Our concern is always to provide the best care and provide the best product to the citizens of South Burlington.”
Captain Genzlinger wants to make sure the city is doing enough to get the word out.
“Our intention was to make sure that the citizens of South Burlington knew we were short staffed because we think that is an important thing for them to know,” Captain Genzlinger said.
There is no indication, emergencies will slow down.
“We are going to do somewhere between 4,300 emergency calls to 4,700 emergency calls,” Captain Genzlinger said.
Jessie Baker, the City Manager of South Burlington, said they are on track to get up to almost full staff in August.
“Yes our officers are working a bit more over time but that is very typical in a 24/7 operation,” Baker said.
Genzlinger questions that timeline, as firefighters need to be trained.
“Really those people aren’t going to be full firefighters who can count towards staffing until December,” Captain Genzlinger said.
Baker contends right now, she’s not concerned.
“Our minimum staffing is eight officers per shift,” Baker said. “We run three shifts a week so that is 24 officers. Which is what we have now on staff actively working. So we have never missed our minimum staffing requirements.”
Captain Genzlinger said while staffing issues are normal he worries about the long term.
“We are used to having a couple over time or additional shifts throughout a month,” Captain Genzlinger said. “But right now we are just about every single day that we have additional overtime and additional staffing working extra hours.”