FRESNO, California (KGPE) – “As of this morning at 4:30, we had 1,689 fires in the city of Fresno since January 1,” said Shane Brown, the Public Information Officer for the Fresno Fire Department.
Brown says that’s 621 more fires than on the same day last year and says there’s no sign of slowing down which puts a strain on the fire department.
“We are stretched thin. We have the same staffing model that we had in 1980. So, in the year 1980, the population was 218,000 and there were 80 firefighters with Fresno Fire. So, 41 years later, we have 81 firefighters protecting 531,000.”
Brown says there should be 140 to 150 firefighters on staff daily for Fresno’s population, but that’s not realistic at the moment. The department would like to get its daily staffing number from 81 firefighters to at least 95 over the next year and a half.
“When I was six years old, my house burned down and the Fresno Fire Department responded to that call and they rescued our family dog,” said Rob Lee, a firefighter with the Fresno Fire Department.
A normally traumatizing event led to that young boy dreaming of the days of becoming a firefighter, first volunteering with Fresno Fire, then applying, undergoing rigorous testing, interviews, and training. Today, the 28-year-old has been fighting fires for about four and a half years and says it’s a dream come true.
“We get to respond to these emergencies and help fix the problems. It’s an absolute dream job, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. The spark has never left and every single day, I can’t believe I get to wear this uniform.”
For more information on Fresno Fire’s recruitment click here.