SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va-- Firefighters are currently stretched thin and crews are working overtime because they need help. Some firefighters work 10 additional hours after finishing a 24-hour shift.
Nina Wilt lives in the county and worries about firefighters not getting enough rest.
"It concerns me greatly that they have to work such long hours. It is not safe for them. It is not safe. It is not safe for the people in the community," says Wilt.
The Shenandoah County Fire Rescue requested the county government to pay for nine extra positions. That would help with the shortage of personnel and overtime.
Five firefighters/EMTs would be assigned to Orkney Springs, a fire station with a shortage of firefighters and an increasing number of calls for service.
Four firefighters/EMTs would be part of a relief pool that would fill-in as needed, instead of being assigned to a specific station.
Fire Rescue Chief Gary Yew said this would help prevent firefighters from being burnt out.
"When anybody is stressed and they are not on their game, there's is a risk of them not making proper judgement calls. A firefighters must be in a position to make [good] judgements," said Yew.
Yew says said it would cost over $450,000 to fund the nine positions. According to him, this could be cheaper than paying for overtime. He said the county is expected to pay a $500,000 to help fill those positions.
Shenandoah County supervisor Cindy Bailey said she would like to see a plan that has firefighters working 12 hour shifts before she decides to fund the extra positions.
Bailey says, right now, the county has many requests for funding. If the county funds those current requests, it would fall into a $1.8 (m) deficit in for next budget year.
" There are things that are needed in the budget that are one time., we have funds, we can go ahead and do those. It's the positions that would be an on going thing that we would have to be careful adding at this point, if the revenue is not there to take care of it at this point," said Bailey.
Wilt said the best solution for her would be to pay for the requested positions.
"I pay for taxes and if my taxes have to go up because of this... by all means raise my taxes," said Wilt.
The Board of Supervisors will finalize its budget in April.
© Copyright 2014 WHSV / Gray Television Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.