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Staffing shortages causing concern for local fire departments

Posted at 5:39 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 19:51:18-04

KIMBERLY, Idaho — Lack of staff and volunteers for local fire departments are causing concern in the Magic Valley as wildfire season grows closer every year.

Dryer conditions throughout the year combined with warmer summers have made wildfire season almost a year long battle. Rock creek fire department recently sent an engine to Texas to help with their wild fire season which has begun very early.

With summer approaching, local fire departments will need as many engines as possible and the lack of budget and volunteers could leave a lasting toll on the Magic Valley's growing community.

Rock Creek logo

"Well ultimately whats going to happen is there’s going to be calls that nobody responds to. Currently if you look at our call statistics for the last few years, almost a third of our calls are overlapping. Meaning that we have two calls going on at the same time,” said Fire Chief Aaron Zent of the Rock Creek Fire Department.

Calls have also increased every year and Rock Creek fire department hasn't had the man power to match it.

“We average about a 16% growth in call volume per year, and we are not getting 16% more firefighters unfortunately. In fact our population, our total roll call is decreasing year by year,” said Zent.

Fire Chief Zent is hopeful that his and other departments will soon get attention at the federal level.

“It’s kind of a burden that needs to be put on the federal level and looked at at a federal level of helping fund firefighter positions,” said Fire Chief Zent.