Lack of data stymies efforts to address Maine's firefighter shortage

  • Source: Penobscot Bay Pilot
  • Published: 08/19/2021 12:00 AM

Even when he works two consecutive 24-hour shifts, Chris Aberle rarely sleeps at the fire station. Sometimes he tries. If he is lucky, he might pick up a couple hours of rest. But lately his shift has been getting calls at night. “No one ever sleeps, you know, even if we had no calls from midnight to 8 a.m.,” he said. “No one really sleeps because you’re just waiting for that bell to go off.” Twenty-four hour shifts can be exhausting, he said. Back-to-back 24-hour shifts are worse. “It’s tough to stay two days in a row. Because you’re like, if you’ve been up all night, I don’t want to be here another day. It wrecks your body. It wrecks your body and trying to do it all over again the next day, you’re like, ‘Here we go.’ ” Lately, Aberle and the other firefighters at the Biddeford Fire Department have worked extra shifts, which are first assigned on a volunteer basis. If no one volunteers, the fire chief informs the person at the top of the “force list” that they must take the shift.


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