Springfield opens firefighter apps to those without EMT certification

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Firefighter recruits from Clark State Community College and the Springfield fire rescue division practice evacuation drills Friday. Many of these local recruits will go on to apply for open jobs at fire departments after they finish this training.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A few years back, there were hundreds of people applying to be a Springfield firefighter — but that’s dropped off dramatically.

“Our last test — we only had 27 applicants,” said Capt. Brian Leciejewski of the Springfield Fire/Rescue Division.

To get more people in the door, the division is eliminating a preliminary requirement for applicants. People will no longer have to be at a paramedic status before they can apply.

Leciewjewski said in the past the problem has been with how long it takes to complete the paramedic program.

“With the prerequisites as well as the paramedic program, that’s about an 18-month process,” he said.

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Leciejewski said instead, those hired at the division will go through 10 weeks of firefighter training. They’ll be able to go on fire calls, but they won’t be certified as an EMT or a paramedic. Once the new hires complete that part of their training, then they’ll be able to go on EMS calls as well.

EMS accounts for nearly 80 percent of all of the calls the division handles, but Leciejewski said because every current firefighter on staff is also a certified paramedic, he thinks they’ll be able to balance getting new recruits their certifications and maintaining their run volume.

“Having that paramedic requirement when you walk in the door we think may be a hindrance to some local people here in Springfield,” he said.

Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said the city hasn’t been able to achieve full staffing in the police or fire divisions for the last couple of years — the fire division in particular.

“When we’ve required paramedic certification on hire, our application pool has been much smaller and we’ve had less diversity,” he said.

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The division has required the certification since about 2009. Bodenmiller said the city has discussed removing the requirement for the last two years.

He said when the city announced Friday it would eliminate the preliminary paramedic certification, there were already 32 emails from interested candidates — that’s more than all of the applicants from the last round of hires.

“That in itself shows me this change is going to be effective,” he said.

The city will be looking to hire at least four firefighters when the civil service test period comes around in the coming months.

Bodenmiller said anyone interested in becoming a firefighter should contact the City of Springfield’s Human Resources department at (937) 324-7318 and ask to be placed on a notification list.

In late November to early December, those interested will be contacted with more information about the service test.

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