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Wilton Fire Department grapples with staffing shortages

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Rural fire departments across Northern California are worried response times to fires and other incidents could be delayed due to staffing shortages. One of those departments is in Wilton, which is 59 square miles in Sacramento County. “When people call 9-1-1, they expect someone to show up,” said Jeff Cookson, Wilton Fire Chief. volunteer firefighters. In 2012, the department began incorporating volunteers and part-time firefighters to help meet staffing requirements. “The door never slows down, the revolving door of people come and go,” Cookson said. Firefighters are leaving bigger departments and more money. Smaller counties like Wilton cannot compete with offers for benefits and higher pay. How amazing is the revenue for some people? In Wilton alone, 300 firefighters have moved to other departments over the past few years. Don Nottoli knew it was only a matter of time before the crew couldn’t get there in time to help. Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli. “Without a doubt, this is a priority,” Nottoli said. Cookson said. According to Nottoli, supervisors continue to reach out to state legislators to help fund rural fire departments.

Rural fire departments across Northern California are worried response times to fires and other incidents could be delayed due to staffing shortages.

One of those departments is in Wilton, which is 59 square miles in Sacramento County.

“When people call 9-1-1, they expect someone to show up,” Wilton Police Chief Jeff Cookson said.

Like most rural fire departments, Wilton’s used to operate on an all-volunteer basis, but Cookson said it’s now a challenge to get volunteer firefighters on. In 2012, the department began incorporating volunteers and part-time firefighters to help meet the staffing needs.

“The door never slows down, the revolving door of people come and go,” Cookson said.

Problems leading to revenue? Firefighters are leaving for bigger departments and with more money. Smaller counties like Wilton cannot compete with offers for benefits and higher pay.

That leaves counties like theirs withered. How amazing is the revenue for some people? In Wilton alone, 300 firefighters have moved to other departments over the past few years.

On some days, staff will be two, and others could be nine, all depending on the day of the week, Cookson said.

Officials like Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli know it’s only a matter of time before crews can’t get there in time to help. Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli.

“Without a doubt, this is a priority,” Nottoli said.

To help encourage people to stay, Cookson said volunteers and part-timers would have to be paid more.

“At the end of the day, we do the best that we have to,” Cookson said.

According to Nottoli, supervisors continue to reach out to state legislators to help fund rural fire departments.

https://www.kcra.com/article/sacramento-county-wilton-rural-fire-departments-personnel-shortages/38445136 Wilton Fire Department grapples with staffing shortages

JOE HERNANDEZ

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