The Ashland Fire Dept. is experiencing a staff shortage

ASHLAND, Ore. — The Ashland Fire Department is experiencing a staffing shortage.

However, its fire chief is quick to assure the public it won’t affect their safety.

A battalion chief still recovering after getting struck by a driver on the 4th of July, a firefighter medically retiring, and a fire captain taking a promotion in Klamath Falls – those are just a few reasons why Ashland Fire and Rescue is short-staffed.

“In the past month we’ve had 3 of our firefighters and one administrator have a death in the family so we’ve had them out on leave, we’ve had a couple of babies born – so [it’s] just normal life that everyone else is dealing with,” said Fire Chief, Ralph Sartain.

Sartain says his staff generally work a 48/96 schedule — 2 days on and 4 days off — but they haven’t seen that schedule since July.

He says firefighters are currently working 96-hour shifts.

His biggest concern? An increase in call volume.

“We were running 3,968 calls for service with 1,453 overlapping calls and at the close of last year, we had 4,510 calls for service with the same 30 firefighters,” he said.

Sartain says the department is actively working on hiring new people, “We have 11 firefighter/paramedics coming to interview on October 26th.”

Chief Sartain says the community shouldn’t worry — despite staff being stretched thin, Ashland’s firefighters are committed to keeping their community safe.

“They might complain to me because of how tired they are, but as soon as that bell goes off, they are all professional and they are here to take care of our community.”

He says the last hiring increase the fire station had was in 2015.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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