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Roanoke County Fire Department dealing with shortage of firefighters

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Roanoke County Fire Department is dealing with a shortage of firefighters.

It's an ongoing issue but recently illnesses, work related injuries, and recent retirees have made for a bigger problem.

However, Roanoke County Fire Chief Stephen Simon says recruits will help alleviate the problem.

"We can't wait to get out on the streets and put this training to use," says Nick Salhany, recruit.

Salhany's class will graduate in May and are expected to fill a void in the department.

On an average day the department is six positions short forcing stations like Cave Spring to rely on other departments because they're short staffed.

"We are able to get out one truck and an ambulance in most cases, and then we rely on either the next available station to send additional manpower and equipment," says Chief John Chambliss, Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Department.

The Cave Spring station had to take one of its ladder trucks out of service because there aren't enough firefighters to run it. It's something the Hollins station had to do as well.

Simon says the problem is severe.

"Mainly due to a number of issues extended illnesses, individuals with work related injuries, along with recent retirees and we currently have a recruit school that's going on right now we're short within the schedule," says Simon.

The chief says they're working with Roanoke and Salem to provide good coverage.