Amid labor shortage, Oxford seeks funds to hire more firefighters, paramedics

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The first course of action at last week’s Oxford city council meeting was passing a $950,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that would cover the first-year costs of hiring six additional firefighters and paramedics. Under the grant, Oxford would have three years to find six applicants to hire.

According to Oxford City Manager Doug Elliott, the City of Oxford Division of Fire and EMS (ODF&E) experienced a 37% increase in service calls from 2,347 in 2009 to 3,206 in 2022.

Currently, ODF&E is operating under a staffing shortage, with nine full-time firefighters/paramedics, three per shift, as well as around two or three part-time employees. ODF&E staff say with their current staff, responding to multiple calls is impossible.

With the grant only covering one year of salary for the new hires, the city would have to fund any further costs. Eliott said if the grant is accepted, it’s likely a second income tax increase or property tax levy would be considered for the November 2023 ballot.

The resolution passed unanimously.

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