Sheffield Fire Department struggling with high turnover rate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Sheffield Fire Department struggling with high turnover rate

Source: WAFF Source: WAFF
(WAFF) -

Our news gathering partner at the Decatur Times Daily reports the city of Sheffield in Colbert County is dealing with a staffing shortage in their fire department. 

Sheffield has lost 17 firefighters in the last two years alone. With 20 firefighters in two stations, that's an 85 percent turnover. 

Fire Chief Dewey King, who is also the city's public safety director, says that low wages are contributing to a high turnover rate.

According to King, the low pay is, quite simply, a revenue problem. Raising pay for firefighters would require the city to lay off employees in other departments. 

In addition to low pay, the position also demands long, irregular hours.

Firefighters are supposed to work a 24-hour shift, followed by 48 hours off, but those numbers are often reversed due to department vacancies.

That means a number of firefighters are routinely working three consecutive shifts before getting time off. 

Lacking the tax base of Florence and Muscle Shoals, Sheffield has recently annexed over 300 acres of property on the Tennessee Valley Authority's Muscle Shoals Reservation in hopes of attracting businesses and much-needed tax revenue for the city. 

The City Council recently approved the hiring of a new firefighter, which helped fill one of its three openings.

The city clerk was given the authority to seek applications to fill the other two slots immediately. 

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