Pandemic leads to shortage of first responders


Manchester, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s an issue that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic, a firefighter shortage. The impact is being felt in local departments throughout the state.

The decrease in public safety goes back two decades, and it’s been made worse by the pandemic. The Manchester Fire Department has eight firefighter vacancies right now, which means more work for their 83 firefighters and paramedics.

Manchester Assistant Fire Chief Josh Bealieu told News 8 this is an industry-wide problem. Many have quit their jobs during the pandemic due to the stress of responding to COVID-19 calls. Some in their department are working between 60 and 80 hours a week.

“We ask the same people to show up day after day and work extra long hours to cover the vacancies we have,” said Bealieu. “We’ll get the job done no matter what, but it would certainly be easier if we were at full staff and didn’t have to worry about our future staffing needs.”

However, it’s a lengthy onboarding process for firefighters. It takes 10 months of training until they are ready to begin the job.

The Manchester Fire Department responded to over 10,000 incidents last year, which averages out to 30 calls per day. Medical calls went up drastically.

If you’re interested in becoming a firefighter, your local fire department will walk you through how the application process works.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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