Firefighters association trying to address firefighter shortage in Winchester, Clark County

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - The Winchester Professional Firefighters Association is a group of first responders who are always ready to answer a call for help.

The bay that used to house fire engine 3 now sits empty because the department doesn't have the manpower to operate the truck.

"We're able to step in when they're having their worst day and give them either a fighting hope or a fighting chance," member Ethan Brogli said.

But now, they're asking for help themselves as they combat staffing shortages over structure fires.

The City of Winchester Fire Department alone has 12 empty positions, leaving them too short-handed to operate fire engine three.

Brogli said it's a $1.3 million truck that was solely responsible for saving three people in a downtown fire two years ago, but now it sits stagnant in its parking spot.

"It's basically an over a million-dollar ornament that's sitting at the station that's not being used," Brogli said.

It's a problem that has members of the Winchester Professional Firefighters Association scared professionally as well as personally.

"That also kind of puts me on edge knowing that there's an apparatus that won't be responding to calls that could easily be one of my family members," Brogli said.

But this is a call they can't answer alone, asking city and county leaders to work with them to ramp up recruiting and offer competitive pay.

"The main saying at the fire department is ‘to preserve life and property,’ but without the proper equipment and the proper personnel to do so, it makes things more difficult,” Brogli said. “So we as the local 1807 just want to get the word out to the public about the shortages that won’t be responding to fires or to EMS calls."

The association is hoping this is the first step in partnering with the city and county to develop a recruitment and retention plan.