Fire Departments Get Creative to Attract Potential Candidates

September 13, 2018 06:25 PM

The Golden Valley Fire Department gets between 700 and 800 calls a year.

Like 90 percent of fire departments in Minnesota, it's dependent on paid on-call firefighters. And that's a model Chief John Crelly said has run its course.

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"We believe that the sustainability of a true paid on-call model here in the metro is not sustainable," Crelly said.

At the moment, the department is authorized for 50 on-call firefighters.

In the next six months they are expected to lose five of those firefighters. Paid on-call fire departments like Golden Valley are having trouble filling positions.

"The struggle of bringing people in is related to today's changing lifestyle. Families are busier on the go," Crelly said.


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For Golden Valley, a full-time department is not financially feasible for a city their size. One option the city is looking at is scheduled part-time firefighters.

"We'll take our 50 firefighters that we have all the hours that they currently have and organize those hours, schedule them up and put four or five people on shift and that's how we see the future," he said.

Attracting candidates isn't just a Golden Valley problem but a problem throughout the state and nationally. State Fire Marshal Bruce West said departments are getting creative by doing things like varying schedules to recruit and retain on-call firefighters.

"So a firefighter can do a lot of the online pieces of that training and then go and do the practicals, putting up a ladder, putting on gear doing those things on a Saturday," West said.

Crelly said by going to part-time shifts, they expect to get a truck out the door in under two minutes. With the system they have now, a response time is usually around 1-7 minutes.

Credits

Todd Wilson

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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