By Jason Allen

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The shortage of people to answer emergency calls in Fort Worth grew to a new high in July.

Thirty-nine positions were open at the end of the month, according to a report scheduled to be delivered to city council members Tuesday, August 3.

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That’s up from 34 positions open in June, when the understaffing became more publicly known.

Most of the 911 call-takers and dispatchers are resigning the report says, pointing to stress, mandatory overtime, culture and personality conflicts, and low pay as the reasons for leaving.

A hiring push has attracted more than 400 applicants for the open jobs.

The first eight potential hires though, would not start until possibly the end of August.

Training so they can work on their own could take another three months. Temporary staff, made up mostly of recently retired call takers, also are not in the building yet as they work through licensing and certifications, according to Cpt. R.L Krouse, who leads the communications division.

In an effort to retain workers, the report says command staff got rid of mandatory 12-hour shifts, instead allowing employees to choose to work longer hours.

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Staff is also working to “improve the workplace environment” according to the report.

A salary study found average pay rates for the jobs in Fort Worth are 14% below market rates.

Advertisements Monday showed jobs starting at $17.72 an hour.

A plan to bump that above $19 hasn’t officially been put in place yet. Another three-percent increase could also be in place for next year.

The police department has not been able to say specifically how long people are waiting for 911 calls to be answered, or how many might be giving up on an answer.

A new 10-digit phone number announced last month for direct fire and medical calls is still being used by people looking to get around long waits.

When lightning hit a house in the north part of the city Sunday night, August 1, Krouse said a call to the new line got firefighters started to the home.

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Someone else called 911 for the same incident, and when they got through firefighters were already at the scene.