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Five Tips on Short Staffing in Rural Departments

Issue 2 and Volume 171.

The rural fire environment is a challenging but rewarding one in which to work. Doing so has allowed me to participate in several types of fireground tasks such as hazmat and advanced rescue operations that I otherwise would not have experienced on a “normal” response. Working in a rural fire district presents a challenge that most fire departments don’t have to contend with: staffing. In this environment, we do not have the luxury of 20-person minimum daily staffing or being able to throw four engines, two trucks, and 24 members at a working fire. “Short staffing” can vary from region to region. For example, the first department for which I worked featured two-person daily staffing that covered one fire station in a 560-square-mile response area. Chances are, many firefighters reading this will either identify with this exact environment or something similar to it. Following are five tips to help improve…

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