Mo. FD reaches out to schools to keep up staffing
The St. Joseph Fire Department is working with high schools and a new college campus to present a career in fire, EMS
St. Joseph News-Press
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — With the recent retirements of two longtime members of the St. Joseph Fire Department, officials are implementing new ways of bringing in younger recruits.
Assistant Fire Chief Jamey McVicker says that, despite recruitment challenges to all government agencies in recent years, staffing in his department has remained strong.
“Our staffing state right now is good. We have a good pool to pick from,” he said. “We still have some depth. We are 131 strong.”
Some of that “pool” will come from new recruitment efforts through local high schools.
“We’re actually getting ready to start a process of contacting the schools and actually getting into local high schools to let them know who we are, how we educate to get to where we are today,” McVicker said.
This recruitment includes initial minimum training in courses called Firefighter 1 and 2 along with EMS training. It adds up to about 150 hours of training new firefighters are required to have.
“They train with our people, our equipment, our policies and our procedures,” McVicker said.
In addition, there are continuing education requirements for those already on the job. Most of that includes maintaining EMT and EMS licenses.
“This is done through online education, as well as hands-on training,” McVicker said. “For fire and rescue, we do continuous training throughout the year.”
Hillyard Technical School recently ended its fire training school, and McVicker said the St. Joseph Fire Department is attempting to work with North Central Missouri College, which just opened a new campus in Savannah, to establish a program.
While bringing new members into the department is important, McVicker said it’s just part of a process to keep its ranks strong.
“The experience we lose after a 40-year retirement of a battalion chief is just something you can’t replace,” he said. “You just try to reload the ranks and do the best you can and keep our public safe.”