EL PASO, Texas --
The El Paso Fire Departments staffing levels are dropping but still it may be months before they hire another class of firefighters.
Diana Ronquillo's dream is to become a firefighter.
"It's something that you get the satisfaction of knowing that you're going to help out somebody and do something for the community," said Ronquillo.
But her dream may be on hold for quiet some time. Because of budget constraints, the El Paso Fire Department isn't hiring.
"It's sad to think that they don't want to have a class soon. But by us getting prepared, it gives us more of a chance to take more classes and advance more," said Ronquillo.
The El Paso Fire Department currently has 875 firefighters, that's the minimum number of firefighters for a city the size of El Paso. Lt. Mario Hernandez said the department is 12 firefighters away from being short-staffed.
"If we continue to lose fire fighters because of retirement or because they left for better jobs we see ourselves having a trigger fire fighter class by late spring," said Hernandez.
That may be a long time to wait. But Ronquillo, whose husband just joined the department, said she can wait.
"He said it's going to be a while. Well, he doesn't know. Nobody knows when they're going to hire but he tells me, 'If you're determined and you want to get in just keep working hard and working out and study.'"
If staffing levels fall even more and the department doesn't hire any new firefighters, it could affect the Insurance Service Office rating. That would mean home owners would pay higher rates for their home insurance.