Some fire stations in Latvia still close periodically due to staff shortage

The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) continues to implement periodic and temporary suspension of work at some fire stations, as the critical shortages of staff have not been resolved, LETA reported October 3.

The agency LETA was informed that the service continues to implement temporary suspension of individual units. No specific number of units was mentioned because it is variable and depends on whether employees are available on specific days.

Such a solution is necessary because the critical staffing problem is not diminishing, with the number of vacant posts remaining at 11%, while the funding allocated to the VUGD in this year's budget for overtime is insufficient to cover all overtime that would arise if the departments were not suspended.

Using just over 400,000 euros allocated to overtime payment, as well as restructuring VUGD expenditure, some of the overtime has been paid this year to reduce as much as possible the need to temporarily suspend individual departments.

Unlike last year, when fire stations were suspended overnight, this year, mostly, individual stations are suspended in the morning for five hours, when there are statistically the fewest calls. In units where a particularly critical situation in the field of personnel arises, as in the Baldone station, for example, operations are also suspended for 24 hours if necessary.

In early October, the total proportion of vacant positions at VUGD was 11.2%, or 364 out of 3,253. In addition, on average, 4-6% of officials are simultaneously in other types of justified absences - sick leave, parental leave, paternity leave, training, and so on.

Together, this constitutes a serious threat to the timely response to events and the provision of high-quality assistance to the public - with existing staff resources, it is not possible to provide life-saving capabilities in all territorial units of the VUGD.

The situation varies from region to region. The most temporary suspension this year has been necessary in Zemgale and Vidzeme.

The decision to start temporarily closing stations was made in October last year.

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