Wilson County closes some fire stations temporarily due to firefighter shortage

Wilson County Fire Station
Posted at 3:43 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 07:04:19-05

LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the new year, some fire stations in Wilson County closed temporarily due to staffing shortages.

"So it has an impact on that side of the county on response times," firefighter Colton Young said.

Young serves as the vice president of the local firefighters union. He said it puts public safety at risk.

"Some of our stations run an average of 12 to 14 calls a shift,” Young said. “But when you’re running that many calls, and if you do that two days in a row, or three days in a row, you’re just not as mentally sharp."

Young said some firefighters had to work nearly 48 hours straight during the snowstorm.

"[I am] very thankful for them," Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said. "I hate that that happens. I hate that we’re in that. We are working very hard to try and address this issue."

Nearby fire stations have to pick up the slack when there are not enough people to man a station.

"That’s not great, it’s not the best of the best, but it’s probably equal to the people that have volunteer service," Hutto said.

Colton said firefighters deserve more money.

"During this time, we need something to help to retain people instead of continuing to hemorrhage the loss that we’re doing," Young said.

Mayor Hutto said it's not that simple.

"Once we up the ante someone else will lose numbers because of us, but it’s the number in the field that is really concerning," Hutto said.

Mayor Hutto said another issue is fewer people are training to become firefighters. At the same time, more firefighters are leaving for jobs that offer better pay and better hours.

"They continue to say that they’re working on it, they’re working on it, and unfortunately we’re not seeing much done about it immediately but they’ve started they’re waiting on a pay study," Young said.

He said the labor shortage is also impacting the landfill and sheriff's department.