EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The County of El Paso’s Emergency Services Department proposed a budget of approximately $9.5 million, that would allow them to do a number of different things compared to last year.

One of the main points that was proposed would be that the department would add paid firefighters to their fleet as opposed to their mainly volunteer basis.

The department says it has been seeing a slight dip in volunteer firefighters this year as they usually have about 75 but has now dropped to 60. Chief of District 1 Kris Menendez that the paid positions will help the organization in the long run.

“We kind of see a trend where volunteering isn’t as feasible anymore many people working two jobs many people working backing in the early days when opportunities where an employer would let you leave to respond to a call but nowadays that’s not so significant.”

Even with the addition of paid firefighters shifts will not change in the department and will continue to have their volunteers. Instead, Menendez says it will give relief to them during their shift.

“We have the firefighters at 24/7 even though their volunteers they would get 12 hour shifts they are stipend driven and so by having paid firefighters they would fulfill one shift one eight hour shift the other days would be covered by the volunteers the stipend crew so we would still maintain the 24/7 coverage just that one of our shifts would be covered would be covered by paid the other two would be covered by volunteers,” Menendez shares.

The addition of paid firefighters would also mean emergency services would increase their availability.

“Were looking at a four firefighter crew at each station so we would go into safety aspects of it so we would have more firefighters available for it the initial two last year versus the three this year, next year will be four.”

Menendez told KTSM that one of the requirements of bringing on the paid staff would be that they would all have to eventually become paramedics so that it would allow them to bring a higher standard of care.

The local board does need to vote for the budget in the next coming days and will return to commissioners court for the final approval on August 22nd.

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