‘Quite worrisome’: Fremont Fire Department deals with applicant shortage

Fire departments across the country and in Nebraska are dealing with a shortage of applicants.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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FREMONT, Neb. (WOWT) - All across the U.S., fire departments wait for their next firefighter applicant to fulfill the current labor shortage.

A shortage that rose since the start of the pandemic. Fremont Fire Department has only hired four to five applicants this year.

“Twenty years ago we used to have possibly 75 to 100 applicants, now we’re only getting a handful of them,” Fremont Fire Chief Todd Bernt said.

The numbers are no different than last year. Now, they’re actually fully staffed, but they still have a long way to go.

“Ten qualified applicants for three or four positions is quite worrisome,” Bernt said.

But Bernt reached out for help and applied to the Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant.

It’s a grant Mayor Joey Spellerberg said helps fire departments increase the number of firefighters and also meet the industry’s minimum standards.

“For up to six new firefighters for the department,” Spellerberg said. “There’s a lot of work done by our grant coordinator Chief Bernt within the city of Fremont to put our resources together to be able to apply for that, so again we’re hoping to hear something in October if we receive that.”

Spellerberg also hopes with more people on the team it will pay more attention to the higher number of calls they’ve been getting this year.

“We need to grow with the way Fremont is growing and that is really what our focus is is benefiting the fire department,” Spellerberg said.

Even though the Fremont fire department is fully staffed, they encourage those who are qualified to apply.