Ashland Fire Chief Addresses Staffing Issues

Join the City is supporting our Fire Crew and Chief Sartain

After the demoralizing and damaging fire session of 2020, this year’s never ending fire season and simmering COVID-19, it is a wonder our Ashland Fire family can catch it’s breath. I think much of this resilient energy is due to Fire Chief Ralph Sartain and his leadership and communication skills.

At the 10-4-21 City Council meeting, Chief Sartain offered a detailed, illustrated presentation of the operation and staffing of the fire, rescue and ambulance services that we are provided. I highly recommend you to view the meeting in the City video archive. It is vital that you understand the staffing issues and the difference between staffing at 8/10 and staffing at 9/11. I emailed Chief Sartain to thank him for clarifying how Fire & Rescue respond to our residents’ calls for assistance.

His responding email to me contained the following staffing details to share with you. He emphasized that he has NOT been directed to “freeze” his replacement of the individuals lost  since his promotion to Chief. Additionally, Council authorized (1) additional FTE when he accepted the job as Fire Chief.

 “The City is not stopping me from hiring, understands and is working with me to help correct our staffing shortfalls.”

(Fire Chief Ralph Sartain).

Chief Sartain listed what has contributed to short staffing since he was hired:

Each individual is equivalent to ONE Full Time (FTE) vacancy

  • One Battalion chief struck on I-5 , not back to work
  • One firefighter medically retired
  • One Captain moved to Klamath Falls as Battalion Chief
  • Nov 1: One firefighter will retire

Chief Sartain also said he has a firefighter in backgrounds at Medford Fire. Plus, Chief Sartain took the job as Interim Chief with one (1) unfilled position. Illness, injuries, deaths & births in the Crew’s families have accelerated this massive drawdown. Additionally, a increase in calls for service has emphasized that
Fire & Rescue staffing needs to be at 9/11.

Chief Sartain’s good news:

November 1: One trained Paramedic will join Ashland Fire. October 26: 11 potential Firefighter/Paramedic recruits will be tested.

October 27: Finalists will be interviewed with background checks to begin by October 31.

Folks: We need to be supportive and patient. Let Fire & Rescue know you appreciate this is a stressful time for them.    

Per Chief Sartain, the background checks, mental health exams and medical exams, and completion of Fire Academy will not yield a trained firefighter into the unit to work before the end of January, 2022 at the earliest.

A future City Council meeting (time TBA) is coming up with a second presentation by Chief Sartain to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager Pro Tem. Be sure and watch it. We are very fortunate to have a highly responsive and well trained Fire & Rescue here in Ashland. Please take every opportunity you can to let them know we appreciate their dedication.

Susan Hall RN


//inserted by Sharon