Fire Department Faces 'Critical Shortage' of Firefighters
Village looking for paid-on-call firefighters during the regular workday of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and according to officials, they’re getting desperate.
The Sussex Fire Department is in desperate need of paid-on-call firefighters to work between the regular business hours, and anyone interested should apply.
“We’re really at a critical shortage,” said Trustee Jim Batzko. “We’re really getting to the point of desperation.”
Fire Chief Colin “Corky” Curtis said he’ll take anyone interested in any position throughout the day, but the fire department’s biggest problem is between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.The positions are paid and the firefighters are on call once every five days.
And anyone worried about getting injured should look closer. When Curtis was looking for additional firefighters in February, he said being a firefighter is more than fighting flames.
“Most calls aren’t even for fires, they’re for (emergency medical services),” he said then. “You’re helping your neighbor. If you called right now, it’s probably your neighbor that would respond. It’s a great learning experience and a way to give back to your community.”
Curtis said the department ran 638 calls last year, and 80 percent of them were for non-fire emergencies, such as heart attacks, car accidents and hazardous material spills. In addition, the Sussex Fire Department helps with public education, fire safety seminars, CPR training and other activities.
Sussex firefighters are “paid-on-call” which means they’re paid for hours they spend responding to emergencies, attending weekly drills or going to school to improve their skills.
“The volunteers are paid based on their level of experience, but you’re paid normally starting at like $8 an hour,” said Curtis. “But with each certification class, you get a raise with that. So we send people to classes like firefighter certification, EMT training and officer classes. Our top paid person $14.52 with all certifications.”
According to Curtis, becoming a volunteer firefighter is a great way to get involved and do something truly meaningful for the community.
Interested residents should fill out an application and drop it off at the Sussex Fire Department.