Circleville fire and police say overtime, staffing issues are wearing crews thin

The Circleville Fire Department is currently utilizing four fire fighters per day (WBNS - 10TV)
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CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio - It took the Circleville Fire Department more than an hour, last Thursday, to cut a man out of his vehicle after a large branch fell on it after it was struck by lightning.

That night, two other neighboring fire departments assisted with getting the man out, tree-cutting and traffic. Then, Tuesday morning of this week four neighboring township fire departments came to assist CFD as part of mutual aid with another house fire.

Tuesday morning's fire also made the 17th call for the Circleville Fire Department in 24 hours. The average, according to Chief Brian Thompson, is anywhere from nine to 15. With only having four staff members a day, Thompson says it's taking a toll.

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"Fatigued," Thompson said of his employees. "Not only physically but mentally."

Chief Thompson says his current roster of cross-trained fire and EMS workers is 14. Take one out for military duty and another for knee surgery that's 12. His overtime, he says, is crippling. One of his workers recently went 72 hours straight. Thompson says if it weren't for mutual aid help with Pickaway TWP, Harrison TWP, Clearcreek TWP and Scioto TWP, it'd be really bad.

"It would devastate our response," he said. "Not only for what job we've sworn to do - protect life and property and ultimately, protect life, but to ensure safety of our personnel."

It's not just fire. Police Chief Shawn Baer says his department is down six patrol officers and five dispatchers.

Thompson says in the last 20 years there were three manufacturing plants in town and two other mills. With those businesses came revenue taxes. When those businesses shut down, so did the funding and cuts had to be made.

Voters could soon change that.

The fire and police unions got together and helped come up with a voting measure that could be on the November ballot asking for a half-percent income tax increase that would only be for safety personnel. Thompson says it would add two more firefighters, daily.

"We're not looking for new trucks," Thompson said. "We're not looking for new buildings. We're not looking for any kind of new equipment. We're looking for people to deliver the service they demand and they're warranted to."

Thompson says the Board of Elections should notify the city, Wednesday, to determine if the issue will be on November's ballot.