Ashland fire chief says too many calls, not enough staff

Rescuers from Ashland Fire & Rescue and Jackson County Fire District No. 5 are practicing rescue. [Mail Tribune/ file photo]

Ashland Fire & Rescue Chief Ralph Sarttain stood in front of Ashland City Council on Tuesday to paint a picture of a fire station on fire.

Staff at Ashland Fire & Rescue are often in a position to handle duplicate calls, with medical and fire calls coming in at the same time, Sarttain said.

Ashland Fire & Rescue is the city of Ashland’s ambulance and fire service, serving both local medical and fire services. In addition, Mercy will support his flights in the event of a medical emergency throughout the Valley and respond to emergency rescue requests in Jackson County, Sartane said.

He said calls for service grew faster than staff in the department.

In 1995, Ashland had 21 firefighters who responded to 1,011 calls, Sartane said.

In 2021, the Fire Department had 30 firefighters and responded to 4,785 calls, 2,079 of which were duplicate calls.

Ashland’s dual-trained firefighters and paramedics are responsible for everything from patient contact to hospital check-in, so firefighters are never stuck trying to balance two important calls at once. often, he said.

“Our most recent call was a cardiac arrest call from Ashland to Eagle Point,” Sartane said.

Sartin said the upward trend is continuing. As of Monday, the department already said he had made 2,960 calls, and he has had 1,655 duplicates so far this year.

“This means that we have one or no resources left to make an additional call to the community,” he said.

71% of these calls are medical, with fire calls accounting for 8% of all calls. An Ashland firefighter he works on a 48/96 schedule. He has 2 days on and 4 days off unless he works overtime.

In response to fire danger days and numerous medical calls with red flags, staff are working more overtime and their sleep patterns are disturbingly disrupted, Sarten warns. .

He said the department should increase the minimum requirement for firefighters on a shift from eight to 10 and should hire more staff.

Please contact Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.

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