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To solve staffing, Batesville Fire Department seeks for a grant



Batesville, Arkansas – By requesting a SAFER funding, the Batesville Fire Department intends to alleviate manpower shortfalls.

The department would be able to hire six full-time firemen thanks to the SAFER award, which stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.

The agency needs those extra hands, especially during a call, according to Chief Mark McCullom.

“That’s huge… we can actually make entry with six people before anybody else gets there and probably get the fires knocked down… a lot better response and more adequate,” he said.

Currently, before the department can respond to a structural fire, it must wait for volunteer firefighters or neighboring agencies.

According to Chief McCollum, it is becoming more difficult every day to rely on volunteer firemen.

“The volunteer world is getting smaller and smaller. People just don’t have time to volunteer as much so we’re doing more and more with on-duty crews than we were ever before… it’s pretty rough,” he said.

According to McCollum, the department’s shift staffing ratio of four firefighters to one hasn’t changed in the previous ten years. Records from the census show that the city has expanded by almost 2,000.
Their obligations have also increased.

“We’re doing more than we were 10 years ago. We’re doing a lot of public education stuff. There is a lot of stuff that the fire service does other than fighting fires,” he said.

McCollum emphasized the necessity for the city to have additional firemen on duty by adding that the department assists the county with rescue calls.

For a brief period of time, the department’s salary for those new firefighters will be partially covered by the grant if it is awarded. According to McCullom, the city is devising a strategy to retain those firemen on duty.

“There’s other sources that we’re going to try to tap into. I’m still talking to the mayor and city council about that. They’re real good about trying to help us on stuff,” he said.

The agency won’t know if they will receive that funding until late this year or early next year, according to McCullom.





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