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Goose Creek working to fill staff shortages at fire department

WCIV Charleston logo WCIV Charleston 8/11/2022 Tara Jabour
© Provided by WCIV Charleston

The Goose Creek Fire Department currently has 12 openings. They filled six positions this week. 

"Like virtually every department in the country, we are short. We are significantly short," said Greg Habib, Mayor of Goose Creek. 

Caption: Goose Creek working to fill staff shortages at fire department. (WCIV)

Mayor Habib said the city has taken steps to create more opportunities for people to work for the fire department. 

"Historically we have only taken transfers, which means they were already certified, firefighters. Now we are hiring folks and essentially sending them through fire school," said Mayor Habib. 

Recently, the city made a change to ensure every fire department shift is covered. 

Read More: Firefighting association cites several issues in Goose Creek

"It was about a week ago that we made that policy change. Essentially what that did was enabled 24-hour force, but it also changed pay structure so volunteers would get paid time and a half or forced," said Mayor Habib. 

But the mayor and fire officials said they haven't had to force a lot of overtime because firefighters in Goose Creek have stepped up. 

"There have been 29 extra shifts since that day 23 have been voluntary, only six forced," said Steven Gillepsie, battalion chief with the Goose Creek Fire Department. 

Read More: Firefighters association raises concerns about staffing at Goose Creek Fire Department

Roger Odachowski, the president of the Professional Firefighters Association of South Carolina, brought the shortage to light last week. He contends that forced overtime is too much. 

"These firefighters are humans too. They are the most devoted that I have seen in a long time. Now they are going to be away from their families more to try and do minimum staffing that is still not solving the problem," said Roger Odachowski, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of South Carolina. 

Odachowski feels Goose Creek is relying too much on mutual aid. 

"You are basically asking surrounding cities to double up your staff because your staff is not adequate," said Odachowski. 

Read More: North Charleston Fire Dept. puts out call for firefighters/EMTs

The association said they are worried about public safety because of the shortage. 

We asked the battalion chief if residents should be concerned. 

"Absolutely not. The response times have not changed. The numbers on the apparatus have not changed. There is no reason for them to be concerned," said Gillespie. 

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