Drought putting strain on fire departments

Drought putting strain on fire departments
Columbiana Fire and Rescue (Source: wbrc)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - No one said fighting fires is an easy job, but lately it’s been extremely difficult.

"This time this year, as opposed to last year we’re up about 50 calls,” said Columbiana Assistant Fire Chief Brett Ashworth.

To be clear, Ashworth says not all of those are for wildfires, but there has been an uptick.

"You can definitely see that there is a spike in that wildland and brush fire type of call,” said Ashworth.

According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, Shelby County has experienced 21 wildfires over the last year. Ten of those have been in the last month alone. Ashworth says over the last two weeks, they really haven’t had any wildfire calls in the city limits. However, they have made numerous runs to nearby areas as they have lent mutual aid to neighboring departments.

"With us being 100% volunteer you never know on a daily basis or even on an hour-to-hour basis, who or how many you are going to have respond to each call,” said Ashworth. “You typically don’t have an enormous amount of guys standing around waiting to go. You are continuing to tax those resources as the days go on and the call numbers rise.”

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