CCFD Chief Rocha Addresses Firefighter Shortage - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

CCFD Chief Rocha Addresses Firefighter Shortage

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

The local fire chief said he is prepared to ask the City Manager for more firemen and ambulances.

There had been talk that the department's academy might be delayed, but the fire chief says everything is still on track to hire 30 firefighters. The only problem is the department is facing a number of retirements that could leave it short again next year.

Those retirements are the reason Chief Robert Rocha says he might have to ask city leaders to allow him to hire more firefighters than the academy will produce.

Right now, the fire union says we are short 40 firefighters, and according to a national fire study, we don't have enough ambulances. With a population of over 300,000 people, Corpus Christi is supposed to have 11 ambulances. We have 9 ambulances for 18 fire stations.

That translates to one ambulance for every 34,000 people.

Stats around the state aren't much better, with Dallas having one ambulance for every 30,000 people, but it is manpower that seems to be the pressing issue for the union and the chief.

"A department this size has around 15 retirements on an annual basis," Rocha said. "The department needs to maintain hiring. We are going to be hiring 30. I will in turn see and evaluate our numbers, and if more need to be hired, I will make a presentation to the City Manager to hire more firefighters."

Even after hiring 30 firefighters in January, the department could still be 25 people short.

As far as the ambulance problem, Rocha says he is asking the City to buy two ambulances over the next few years, each one costing $250-500 thousand to run.

The department says the number of calls from 2011 to 2012 have gone up by 10-percent. Nearly three out of four calls for help are medical in nature. The chief expects that trend to continue, and that is why he says we need the ambulances and why we might need to be hiring even more firemen.

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