The number of rescue workers across Estonia is approaching the critical minimum, as implemented hiring limitations aren't allowing the Rescue Board to fill vacancies that come up. The agency is 8 percent short on rescue workers and admits that this is starting to impact the quality of rescue services they are able to provide.
The Estonian Rescue Board has implemented hiring limitations on both office workers and rescue workers at the agency's bigger brigades which do not allow for positions that open up to be filled; by scaling back hiring, the Rescue Board is maintaining a buffer in order to avoid having to dole out layoff notices or pay severance, reported Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht.
"The fact that we currently have a somewhat higher percentage of [job] vacancies is indeed the result of the state austerity plan," said Deputy Director General Tauno Suurkivi, according to whom it is precisely uncertainty which has them acting with caution.
The number of job vacancies at the Rescue Board has reached nearly critical level: there are currently 167 job vacancies, of which 126, or 75 percent, are for rescue work and the remaining quarter are for office work.
Currently the number of brigades remains the same, response time is the same and critical life-saving capacities have been preserved, however Suurkivi estimates that problems may arise in the event of bigger accidents on in situations where one brigade must respond to multiple calls at once and it may not be possible for the brigade to man multiple rescue vehicles at once or there may not be enough help available when fighting a fire, for example.
There are fewer and fewer rescue workers on call across Estonia; every brigade is short two rescue workers on average. Hiring limitations do not apply to all brigades, however, as only larger brigades, where multiple crews are on call at once and total manpower is greater, are at liberty to allow rescue worker vacancies in their ranks.
Smaller brigades cannot afford such money-saving measures and thus continue to hire as necessary. All crew chief postitions are also kept filled, but bigger brigades take the hit in manpower, and the Rescue Board is short on firefighting hose crew members.
The most recent round of layoffs in the Rescue Board came over the summer, however no rescue workers were given the axe; 12 office workers were layed off instead.
There are currently 126 vacancies for rescue workers in the Rescue Board's various brigades; by not hiring to fill these vacancies, the Rescue Board is saving a total of 1 million euros per year.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla