Fresno Fire may remain understaffed due to budget constraints

"We have 80 firefighters on duty a day. That's 80 firefighters protecting 500,000 people."
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a busy season for Fresno firefighters, as they're responding to a recent spike in calls.

They're not short of work, but they are short of people and they may have to stay understaffed a while longer.

On Monday, City of Fresno administrators told the city council they decided not to apply for the Safer Grant, a grant that could've funded nine more firefighters, due to budget constraints.

Councilmembers, however, say they were blindsided, since they didn't know the city wasn't going to apply despite the council voting to seek grant funding back in March.

Fresno Fire officials say the department is one of the most understaffed departments in the state.

"We have 80 firefighters on duty a day. That's 80 firefighters protecting 500,000 people," says Shane Brown, Fresno Fire's public information officer.

On top of that, they're handling hundreds of calls a day.

Brown says during a recent fire near Friant Avenue and Highway 41, they were forced to suspend some services since most of their staff was battling the blaze.

"At that point, we suspend medical aid emergencies," he said.

Mayor Lee Brand says they're not giving up, and still plan to look for other sources of funding to help the fire department.

Firefighters say the calls won't stop and until more people can be hired, they'll make do with what they have to keep people safe.
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