Firefighting agencies impacted by rising costs

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:02 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - As many of us already know, inflation is having a daily impact on everyone’s lives, from what you see at the grocery store to locally owned businesses. Now it’s the agencies that keep you safe that are feeling the crunch.

Right now, there are long wait times for things that agencies like the Northwest Fire District use every day, from jackets and parts for their trucks. Like most of us, it’s something these agencies have had to work through to continue to provide life lifesaving services to the public.

“It’s wants versus needs, and in today’s time, it’s all about the needs,” said Scott Draper, Assistant Chief of Essential Services for NWFD. “It’s about keeping trucks in service and being able to meet our mission.”

Inflation has driven up the cost of fire equipment. Northwest Fire has been looking for different distribution centers and vendors for more medical supplies.

“Medicine is a big one. Those are really high. Anywhere in my shop, when it comes to fuel and parts and all that stuff, it’s been about a 10%-12% increase,” he said.

Northwest Fire is doing what it can to stay ahead of the national issue. They’re tracking costs monthly, budgeting and planning ahead.

″What we’ve had to do lately is keep more things on the shelf and have a higher stock level than we’re usually liking to have. But this allows us to have those parts readily available so we can keep our trucks in service,” Draper said.

The district is also partnering with other agencies and sharing supplies and equipment, if needed.

Rural Metro Fire is facing some of the same issues.

“First and foremost, full costs really have impacted us over the past few years. We also see it impacting other areas of our department, like trying to get equipment. The cost of equipment has gone up,” explained Jay Karlik, Assistant Fire Chief for Rural Metro Fire.

The supply chain issues have also made it harder to get parts when they’re needed.

“In addition to that, with the costs, it also has increased our lead times to be able to get things, so, we really have to plan out in advance for a lot more things just because it takes so long to get equipment and supplies,” he said.

All of this is on top of staffing shortages seen across many agencies. Right now, it’s all hands on deck to make sure things run business as usual.

″We have to run the calls. We have to fill the shifts and continue to take care of the public,” Karlik said.

Overall, both of the agencies said that inflation is not going to keep them from taking care of the communities that rely on them.