Sunset Beach tables vote on 'hiring freeze' for fire department

Sunset Beach town council will consider a "hiring freeze" for the fire department. (Source: WECT)
Sunset Beach town council will consider a "hiring freeze" for the fire department. (Source: WECT)

SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) - A Sunset Beach councilman said he wants the town to stop hiring firefighters until he finds out why so many are already on the payroll.

Councilman Rich Cerrato said he planned to introduce a measure to place a "hiring freeze" on the fire department until further notice. Sunset Beach City Council on Monday night tabled a vote on the issue.

"I don't believe in layoffs," Cerrato said. "Layoffs is a management failure."

A staffing analysis compared the department's workforce numbers to six similar departments. The Sunset Beach Fire Department employs 17 full-time firefighters, the most in the study despite covering one of the smallest districts.

"We have mutual aid," Cerrato said. "I'm raising the question. I haven't received an answer yet. Why do we have more firefighters than the other towns?"

Less than a year ago, Sunset Beach Fire Chief Kevin Dempsey claimed the department was understaffed and needed more firefighters due to increased calls.

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