Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Goose Creek Fire Department ‘facing a staffing crisis’

Single male hand in fire.

Photo: Getty Images

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - There are about 48,000 people in Goose Creek according to the census estimate in February 2022. Right now, only 11 fire fighters are staffed to serve this many people from Goose Creek Fire Department.

The Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina held a press conference at Goose Creek City Hall about the staffing shortage.

Roger Odachowski, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters Association of South Carolina, says Goose Creek Fire Department is facing a staffing crisis. As of February 17, 2022, the union says the station has about 8,200 calls per year. He says only 11 fire fighters can respond to this many calls from the Goose Creek Fire Department.

To put this in perspective, Odachowski says you need about 25-30 fire fighters to cover an average structure fire. He says last month, there was over 5,600 overtime hours logged from the current fire fighters working at Goose Creek. He says he’s never seen anything like this working on the front line or in his leadership with the association.

Franklin Johnson from the city of Goose Creek says their estimate for the number of overtime hours in July was approximately 3,000. He says there are 18 current vacancies, and eight hires that are scheduled to start between now and September that will cut that number to ten.

Odachowski says he’s been contacting the fire chiefs and Mayor Gregory Habib since February about this, but no one has responded and is willing to sit down and talk.

“The chief said it was due to COVID,” Odachowski said. “City officials said it’s because of this, it’s because of that, it’s because of this. We are here because the firefighters of Goose Creek are truly concerned about the safety of its citizens and it’s continuing to be ignored. We need the board to do something before it causes a fatality because that would be on them.”

“The citizens, 48,000 citizens sure, should be able to, with their tax dollars, be able to put out a fire in their own house without asking for neighboring departments,” Odachowski said.

The other men from the association that stood behind Odachowski at the press conference were affiliated with the neighboring departments. They say no one from Goose Creek Fire Department was present due to fear of retaliation.

Zack Jawish is affiliated with North Charleston Professional Fire Fighters Association, and he says having so few people working with no one able to stand by for backup makes for a huge safety issue.

“We stood outside for a press conference today and the heat was pretty draining,” Jawish said. “If you’re looking at putting these guys in their gear and running to a fire, you’re only having some days 11 personnel doing minimum staffing and that’s with the rescue browned out right now.”

Odachowski says he’s been contacting the fire chiefs and Mayor Gregory Habib since February about this, but no one has responded and is willing to sit down and talk.

“I think we’ve waited long enough,” Odachowski said. “Six months is a long time for this to continue to go on without any progress. You know, any testing, any whatever. So, so that’s why we’re here today. And, you know, we don’t want to come off as the aggressor, but with the terminations, the guys getting hurt, the next step is a fatality. So, we have to do something.”

The City of Goose Creek released this statement:

The City of Goose Creek takes great pride in its Fire Department, and at no time have any current openings affected the Department’s ability to serve every resident. We have recently instituted a wide range of initiatives to modernize and indeed transform our Department, including pay increases in 2021, the creation of a Safety Committee in 2021, mandatory fitness training for all firefighters, the purchase of five new apparatuses, and the creation of several new positions including: three full time Battalion Chiefs, a full time Assistant Chief of Training, and an Assistant Chief of EMS. Change can be hard, but raising the bar was the right thing to do. We appreciate the City’s faith and support in our Fire Department.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content