Marion County — Tuesday, at a Marion County Board of County Commissioners meeting, it was announced that Marion County Fire Rescue had lost another 5 employees.
However, a closer look revealed that from the last week in April, to May 6, was rough for MCFR as far as being able to retain highly skilled and experienced firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs.
According to records obtained by Ocala Post, in that time frame 10 employees turned in their resignations and more are expected to follow.
The 10 employees that resigned have 89 years of combined experience, with half of the employees having 10 years or more on the job.
The breakdown is as follows:
15-year driver engineer and firefighter paramedic.
11-year HAZMAT certified firefighter paramedic
10-year driver engineer and firefighter paramedic
9-year driver engineer, HAZMAT certified, and firefighter paramedic
7-year firefighter paramedic
4-year firefighter EMT
This mass exodus of employees represented millions of dollars worth of training and experience paid for by the Marion County taxpayers. It appears that the frequency of MCFR employee resignation has increased momentum.
Last year, MCFR lost approximately 60 employees, and it was announced at Tuesday’s commission meeting that approximately 60 employees have already resigned since January.
Fire union leaders said that they fear next year will bring an even greater number of employee resignations.
Union leaders are also concerned about the number of firefighters in other areas that are preparing for retirement.
“Due to changes in the Florida Retirement System in 2011, many public servant employees throughout the state were encouraged to start the retirement process that will be coming to a head this time next year,” said Ryan O’Reilly, Public Relations Director for the Professional Firefighters of Marion County. “The entire state is facing a retirement boom.”
O’Reilly added, “When [that] happens, Marion County firefighters and paramedics are going to be able to write their own ticket to any department they want to go to. These issues need to be addressed now, before this crisis turns into an absolute catastrophe.”
Commissioners were told on Tuesday that MCFR is currently 60 firefighters and EMS staff light.
Commissioner Kathy Bryant agreed, saying that the Board needed to have a discussion about what needs to be done to prevent the exodus of MCFR employees.
Ocala Post recently reported that three ambulances were shut down in spite of 28 employees, or 20 percent of the daily staff, being on forced overtime.
MCFR said that ambulances shutting down have become a regular occurrence.