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Felton volunteer fire department faces a staffing shortage 

FELTON, Calif. (KION-TV)- Budget constraints and staffing shortages are putting the Felton Volunteer Fire Department in jeopardy.

Moving through fire season, the Felton Volunteer Fire Department faces a shortage. This causes a challenge for not only the department but for residents as well.

Right now, they have only two full-time captains and two full-time firefighters.

“The district started moving in a direction of hiring some full-time staff to work specifically during the daytime hours, so the daytime hours are traditionally what’s been the hardest for us to staff with the volunteers," Ian Jones Fire captain of Felton Fire District said.

This comes as red flag warnings are issued in the Santa Cruz mountains all this week.

In a small volunteer fire department, everyone is hands-on preparing for the heightened fire danger starting Friday.

"The district was a volunteer district for really long time and there hasn’t been very much traction to increase revenue streams and now we have the shortage of volunteers," said Jones. "We’re having to rely more on hourly staff, resulting in more shifts having to be worked.” 

The Felton Volunteer Fire Department serves a small town with around 3,700 residents. Many of them are worried about the staffing issue and what that may mean for their community.

“I know there is a staffing shortage everywhere, and I’m sure they need to get more people and find more volunteers," said Keith, a Felton resident.

With very little coverage, the district is teaming up with Zayante Fire District--which is two miles away from Felton--to help respond to calls.

“At this point, our volunteers have been working really hard along with our staff and we’ve been able to make most calls," Jones said. "If there is a time we don’t have staffing available, then we would rely on our mutual partners. So Zayante fire would come in and respond to call.” 

Felton Fire tells us they think it’s worth spending extra money to keep their volunteer station going. Now, the two districts will share staff when needed.

“If that means hiring paid staff and finding a way to to bolster our revenue streams, then you know that’s what our union is going to help push forward. We want to make sure that you know this department and the security area is serviced properly safe and at a safe level," said Jones.

The end goal is to find a way to provide extra coverage for the Felton Fire Protection District.

With the staffing shortage, Felton Fire may partner with CalFire long-term in order to keep their station going, or put out a bond measure on the ballot that could raise money if approved.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Cruz County
felton fire
fire department funding
santa cruz county

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Briana Mathaw


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