Board Considers Options to Address Firefighter Staffing Shortage

Fire truck (website)

The Plainfield Township Board of Trustees is considering staffing options to ensure the Fire Department continues to provide the community with responsive service.

Currently, the fire department is experiencing a staffing shortage, with a sharp decline in the number of certified firefighters available to pick up part time shifts.

Township Fire Chief Steve McKellar presented firefighter staffing options to the Board during its Nov. 8 meeting. The proposed changes call for restructuring some part time firefighter shifts into full time roles to allow the Fire Department to maintain response times and proper staffing levels at both fire stations.

Plainfield Township uses a combination of full time and part time firefighters to keep services affordable for the community. However, as West Michigan fire departments face staffing shortages, part-time firefighter positions have become difficult to fill. Full-time firefighters step in to fill some of these shifts, but overtime costs and firefighter fatigue have become challenges for the department.

The difference in cost between a part time and full time 24-hour shift is approximately $100,000 annually, with most of this cost going toward benefits full time staff receive. Moving all part time shifts to full time would cost more than $300,000 annually.

The proposed changes will be included in an updated general fund budget proposal that will be presented to the Board for consideration Nov. 22. 

Township firefighters respond to more than 2,900 calls each year. Of these calls, 64% are medical related and 36% are for fires, vehicle accidents and other rescues. The Fire Department also provides fire code inspection services, fire education and risk reduction programs throughout the year.

For more information on the Fire Department, click here.