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Petersburg Fire Chief says staffing, vehicle shortage not impacting ability to protect public

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:23:32-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- First responders in Petersburg say they've been dealing with issues with some of their emergency vehicles and a staffing shortage.

Bubby Bish, with Southside Virginia Emergency Crew, said while the city is covered in terms of EMS service, he believes it could be a better situation.

"Effective this week, the fire ambulance medic went out of service," said Bish.

The Petersburg Fire Department said it came down to staffing and having to use firefighters in mandatory overtime.

"We were stressing our staff, based on the fact we're short on staffing levels," said Interim Fire Chief Jim Reid. "We're in a hiring process right now and based on the shortage, we were working our people too hard."

At the same time, the city's three frontline fire trucks, bought in 2017, also went down.

"I brought in two reserve pieces from other localities," said Reid.

If you live or work in Petersburg, you may have noticed a City of Richmond fire truck and a Dinwiddie County fire truck at two of Petersburg's fire stations.

Some firefighters tell CBS 6 they're concerned with maintenance procedures of the fire trucks, but Chief Reid says regardless of the name on the fire engine, their ability to protect the public is not impacted.

"They are absolutely safe. We're commited to providing the best protection possible to our citizens," he added.

As of Wednesday, the Richmond fire truck has been returned and the Dinwiddie truck is now in reserve.

The local firefighter union says they are hopeful the new fire chief who will be hired will look into the problems.