Navy in desperate need of civilian firefighters and police

Sailors and federal law enforcement personnel conduct live-fire training using non-lethal paintball loaded ammunition during the Navy Security Forces Training Course, a pilot program at Naval Base Coronado, Calif. The program trains civilian and military police forces to work together. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class AC Rainey, Mass Communication Specialist/Released)

Major changes are underway to correct a severe manpower shortage at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT.

According to The Day, last year, 33 firefighters with the base’s fire dept. spent “more time at work than they did at home.”

The base is in desperate need of firefighters and security officers. The Navy had 229 full-time civilian fire and emergency service position openings as of Jan. 4 and in the next few years, the Navy expects to hire more than 700 civilian police officers for its installations nationwide.

A reduction in funding for security personnel in 2013 reportedly led to difficulties with “recruiting and retention.”

Force requirements for fire and emergency services and security force personnel has increased, according to Fred Henney, deputy director of public affairs for Navy Installations Command.

This manpower shortage has been the “most severe” in recent years.

Despite the ongoing problem it took officials reaching out to a local Congressman to get “some relief.” US Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) got the attention of  Navy officials.

“The issue of overtime and the stress factor that they were feeling because of …the dearth of hiring was something that clearly reached a point where we felt it was time to go up the food chain and alert people,” he said. Courtney said, when people are working too many overtime hours, it could really become a public safety problem.

The firefighters’ salary range goes from a little over $35,000 to just above $51,000.  When fully staffed the dept. has 40 firefighters who work a 72-hour week.

The greatest delay in hiring was mainly caused by the amount of time it took to get appointments for pre-employment physicals and to receive the results of those physicals, said Henney.  Also adding to the increased number of openings was:  retirements, moves and personnel taking other positions.

Officials say they’re on track to fill all 229 openings by April and anticipate hiring up to 723 civilian police officers by 2018.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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