Nashville Fire Department Officials Want To Add 67 More Firefighters

Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 19:16:49-04

Nashville Fire officials requested 67 additional firefighters and voiced their concerns during a metro budget hearing.

The Director Chief William Swann said the department is short staffed in Wednesday's meeting.

"We're asking for 67 more firefighters in our fire suppression division. We actually deal with having shortfalls because of our staffing," said Swann.

He said his number one goal was to knock down fires faster and save lives. In order to do that, he said he needed more firefighters, medics, and dispatchers at the Office of Emergency Management.

"We are currently staffing three persons per piece of equipment and when an employee takes off for any reason, we have to backfill with overtime," Swann said.

According to national standards, most "equipments" should have four people on them. Most Nashville Fire trucks have three people on them.

Currently,they roll out vehicles they don't need to fires because they are carrying more manpower. That won't necessarily be the case if they bring more firefighters on board.

"We won't have to run as many vehicles as we have been just because we have a staffing problem," Swann said.

They asked the city for a budget of $9.5 million. Part of that, $1.5 million, would go toward medical supplies.

"The opiate epidemic sprung up out of nowhere and the growth of the city, we all feel the impact of that," Swann said.

They spent $119,000 on the life-saving drug Narcan between July 2017 and January 2018. 

"I would say out of a four day rotation, probably use it 3 if not 4 shifts," said Swann.

Paramedics said they're running full steam ahead, and using Narcan a lot.

"We've always carried it. We've just used it a lot more, beginning to use it a lot more over the last year to two years," said Chris Yates.

In addition to adding dozens more firefighters, they asked for two more medic units.

"At the end of the day, we will do our part and continue to do what we've been doing and that's serve the citizens of Nashville," said yates.

They hope that having more firefighters will provide flexibility. They aim to send other firefighters to specialized training to learn more on things like trench rescues and active shooter situations.

Even with the extras the Fire Department is asking for, this year's budget proposal costs about $100,000 less than last year according to Nashville Fire spokesperson Joseph Pleasant.