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Local first responders dealing with labor shortages

Posted at 10:34 PM, Oct 23, 2021

First responders have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, but some haven't been able to catch their breath because departments are facing a serious shortage of workers.

The Mentor Fire Department is one of them. Although the shortage isn't affecting the emergency response time at the department, it's putting a strain on active workers.

"We're in a profession where you have to be on your 'A-game' for something very dangerous at a given time," said Brian Bittner, Mentor Fire Department's Fire Lieutenant. "Now you're burned out because you've been here for 36 to 48 hours."

The Mentor Fire Department says even though the benefits and pay are competitive, people just aren't interested. It's now working with local schools to help recruit its next firefighters.

According to a 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters in Ohio earn an average of $50,000 a year.

Lieutenant Bittner says anyone interested in becoming a career firefighter in Ohio must meet the minimum requirement, including receiving an EMT-basic or a paramedic certification and a firefighter II certification.

"It's such a high satisfying job that it's tough to understand why someone wouldn't be drawn to it," said Lieutenant Bittner.

News 5 reached out to other local fire department to see if they are facing a similar shortage. The Wickliffe Fire Department says it's down part-time firefighters and don't have any applicants. The Willoughby Fire Department says it's having a challenging time retaining part-time staff.

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