Jackson Fire Dept. battles shortages

Published 10:23 pm Monday, March 23, 2009

The Jackson Fire Department is short more than a dozen captains and seven district chiefs, almost half the number of station managers it is budgeted to have.

The shortage of captains means many fire trucks go out with only three people on the crew instead of four. Fire Chief Vernon Hughes said three is the state-mandated minimum.

A.J. Bryant, head of the firefighters’ union, said reaction times aren’t noticeably slowed by the staffing shortages but many firefighters are concerned about fatigue.

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Officials say the lack of district chiefs means many of the fire department’s nine district fire chiefs are working back-to-back 24-hour shifts.

Hughes estimates at least 30 employees are eligible to test for promotions. To qualify as a potential district chief, employees must have worked at least four years at the rank of captain.