Memphis Fire Department looking for recruits

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Fire Department is looking for fire recruits. It is holding information orientations starting this weekend for men and women who might be interested.

MFD confirmed to WREG its staffing numbers are down, and it is looking to hire.

Exactly how short the city is on firefighters is still unclear, but Acting Deputy Chief Keith Staples said that number could go up as more firefighters prepare to retire in the next few years.

MFD is hoping for multiple recruiting classes next year, with each class holding about 50 people.

"We're trying to do what we can do with the city to get the best qualified applicants in here to Memphis," said Memphis Fire Fighters Association President Thomas Malone.

Malone said he took the Memphis job postings and sent them out to other cities.

He said it could be tough finding good recruits willing to come here. The union is currently suing the city because some newer employees got stripped of their pensions.

"We've been saying all along that if these cuts continue to happen, our people are going to look elsewhere," Malone said.

The job posting said starting salary for fire recruits is about $32,629. Malone said that is not doing the city any favors in getting qualified hires to come to Memphis.

"It's $51,000 after three years or something, and they're coming in here with 55/58,000 to start," Malone said, referring to other cities.

Mayor-elect Jim Strickland said his pick for the new fire director, Gina Sweat, is boosting morale.

Earlier this year, the City Council voted to give firefighters a 2 percent raise that starts in January. It was less than firefighters wanted.

Sweat already has a team working on recruitment and retention. That is something Strickland plans to help with.

"As mayor, what I'm going to do is go on sort of a little recruiting trip for our current firefighters and police officers, my trying to convince them to stay here. If you look at our pay, if you look at our total compensation package, we're hoping that it measures up to these other cities," Strickland said.

MFD is holding informational orientations Saturday, December 19 and Monday, January 4th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chester Anderson Training Center, 4341 O.K. Robertson Road.