MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The city is looking for new recruits to join the shrinking Memphis Fire Department.
This recruitment effort comes in the middle of chaos with many Memphians questioning the future of the department.
Despite the Memphis City Council slashing employee healthcare benefits to the point many have left the department, Memphis Fire Director Alvin Benson is optimistic the department will be able to fill 100 fire recruits spots.
Benson believes the jobless rate in Memphis will help drive up applications, “This is a very competitive position. The salary is competitive, especially for Memphis. $50,000 after three years that can make a huge difference in a lot of folk’s lives.”
“But are the benefits competitive?” asked WREG’s Elise Preston.
“When you look at that, you have to make a comparison,” replied Benson.
The last recruitment class was in 2013.
Classes are supposed to start every 6 months.
“In light of the past budget years and the challenges and uncertainty is, we were unable to have those 6 month classes,” said Benson.
MFD is accepting applications starting Wednesday, for classes that start in April of 2015.
Those future firefighters won’t actually start fighting Memphis fires until next summer.
That means a two year gap for new Memphis firefighters.
Just this week, 24 firefighters retired and two more waves of scheduled retirements will happen before this class even starts.
Benson said a 100 recruit class will catch MFD up on its low numbers.
“I’m not going to pretend. This is a challenge, something the department has never faced before. To have benefits, and then one day they are different, that’s a hard pill to swallow,” said Benson.
The fire director points out these new recruits will know what to expect before they even suit up.
Benson hopes the fire department will be able to save money in this recruitment class.
The department is trying to recruit applicants that already have an EMT or paramedic certification.
That means less training the Memphis Fire Department has to do.
Fire department administrators are also pushing for women and Latino recruits this years.
They say both groups are under represented on the force.
Interested applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 40.
Applicants have to have a high school diploma or GED and pass a series of tests including medical comprehension, a written test and a physical.
An interest meeting will be held Saturday, July 26th at 9a.m. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
If you’re interested in applying, click here.