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CORINTH, Miss.– Officials with the Corinth Mississippi Fire Department are highly concerned after the number of people applying to become firefighters dropped to a low that’s never been seen before.

When the alarm sounds, Corinth firefighters know they need to be prepared for anything and it’s important to know there’s a fully staffed crew watching your back if things get too “dicey.”

But now–for the first time anyone can remember–this fire department faces a shortage of applicants.

Chief Todd Welch said he started noticing a lack of applications about the same time he noticed many businesses in the community also looking to hire workers.

“Everywhere I go by…”help wanted,” he said. “We used to always have anywhere from 40 to 50 applications at any given time . Now it’s come down to where you’re lucky if you have two to three applications.”

Welch said it’s not just the fire department but Corinth Police and even the city’s street department are seeing a drop in applications.

Corinth has four fire stations, usually staffed with four firefighters at each one, but that number has dropped recently to 15 per shift.

Welch cited retirement or employees moving away from Corinth as a cause of the shortage.

Granted, the job’s not a career for everyone as it is tough and demanding.

“You want somebody that’s going to take the job and be ready to perform at any given time. Because you never know what you’re walking into…what you’re going to see…and it’s good to have somebody that’s confident in what they’re doing,” said deputy chief Chris Kelley.

Even with a starting salary around $30,000 a year and attractive benefits, the question remains how to get more qualified applicants?

“What’s the next plan…how will we win people…how will we get them to apply? And right now we don’t have an answer,” Kelley said.

You can go to the Corinth Fire Department website and fill out an application or pick one up at the Corinth City Hall.

Be advised even if your application is accepted, you still have to be certified at the State Fire Academy.