Lynchburg fire chief responds after department members expressed concerns over working conditions

Admits department is short staffed, citing COVID-19 cases as an issue

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Members of the Lynchburg Fire Department want city council to address their concerns over working conditions, salary, recruitment and retention.

Chief Greg Wormser said the department is short staffed right now, which a lot of it is related to COVID-19. About a third of the workforce tested positive over the last year and at least half had to quarantine at some point.

Wormser’s comments come after Tuesday’s city council meeting, where members of the Lynchburg Firefighters Association claimed they’re facing issues including low morale and mandatory overtime.

Jamie Maxwell, association president, said firefighters worked 7,800 hours of overtime since January, with more than 4,000 of those being mandatory.

“Your firefighters are tired. We’re tired of working overtime. We care about our citizens, we care about everybody here [at the city council meeting], we want to do the right thing. We need [city council] to do the right thing, we need [interim city manager] Doctor [Reid] Wodicka to do the right thing, we need the fire chief to do the right thing,” said Maxwell during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“The department has been short-staffed. We do have overtime policies in place to make sure that all of our equipment is staffed and that the citizens get the service that they deserve and need. So, we have used a number of hours of overtime, both mandatory and not mandatory,” Wormser told 10 News Wednesday.

The association also alleges the city is withholding the results of a pay study, which was conducted three years ago to ensure employees were being compensated appropriately across the city.

A judge ordered the city to release that study, but the city is appealing. City leaders said due to the ongoing case, they could not comment on the issue.

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