Georgia Firefighters Lack Tools for Wildfires, Hazardous Materials

May 20, 2009

Georgia firefighters say they are feeling the negative effects of the current economic crisis and lack some key equipment, according to a national survey of firefighters.

The survey identified the top three challenges facing Georgia fire departments today:

  • Sixty-three percent of departments do not have protective equipment for all personnel to respond to wildland fires.
  • Sixty-three percent of departments do not have protective equipment for all personnel to respond to a hazardous materials incident and 65 percent of those without it state that they need it.
  • One-third of Georgia fire departments do not have adequate extrication equipment needed to safely and quickly remove injured people from a vehicle crash.

The national study, sponsored by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., attracted nearly 9,500 fire departments, including 203 in Georgia.

The 50 participating departments in the Atlanta metro area also reported facing key issues:

  • Eighty-two percent of departments find staffing/ recruitment/ retention at least somewhat challenging.
  • Three-fourths of departments find insufficient and old/outdated equipment/ apparatus at least somewhat challenging.
  • About one-third of departments agreed that they have had to or are planning on cutting back on staffing because of the economic crisis.
  • Forty-four percent of departments have had to increase fundraising efforts and/ or grant writing because of budget cutbacks.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, who is running for governor, said adequate funding is needed to keep communities safe.

“This study is extremely valuable for both its depth and scope – one that effectively shows the needs of today’s fire service in communities across the country and particularly here in Georgia,” he said.

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