Cobb County firefighters have been pulling long hours this summer. Staffing levels are at a minimum for the county’s 29 fire stations because an increasing number of the workers have had to quarantine during the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases.
Each day, according to Fire Chief Bill Johnson, an average of 20 of the county’s 785 firefighters and paramedics have been absent because they’ve either contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to the virus.
That’s left other crew members working double shifts to cover the gaps.
As a result, over the past three months, Cobb Fire and Emergency Services has seen a 256% increase in overtime from what it paid during the same period in 2019 before the pandemic arrived.
“We’ve been hit very hard,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future with the way the pandemic is hitting us right now, I don’t know how long it’s going to take before we see an end to this.”