HAZLEHURST, Ga. (WSAV) – An unsually high number of fires in Jeff Davis County has kept firefighters busy, but the task has been much tougher due to a shortage of workers.
Between May 26 and June 2, Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Fire Rescue fought 17 fires, most of them brush. The Fire Chief and EMA director, Charles Wasdin, said on a normal week they fight two or three.
The chief said most of the 17 fires happened midday. This presented a problem because they have a small paid staff and depend on volunteer firefighters to fill in, but most were unavailable.
“That’s a big problem for us. It’s really when we have issues during the day, and incidents during the day when it’s a big issue with us not having enough volunteers,” Wasdin said.
Wasdin added not having enough volunteer firefighters is a critical issue. It means the firefighters or volunteers who arrive at a scene have to work more, which is risky when they are battling fires in sometimes extreme heat.
“You have less time for r and r which is to bring them down, rehab them, give them water, so if you don’t have enough people on the scene those folks there [have] to work harder,” Wasdin said.
Wasdin said fire rescue has tried to solve their volunteer firefighter shortage before by advertising on social media and through flyers, but it didn’t help. Now he said they’re turning to the youth.
“We’re working through the school system, we’re getting in the school system trying to get with some of our young folks and try to entice them to do that as they come out,” Wasdin said.
All 17 fire were investigated and there was no foul play.