Firefighting ranks short – Metro US

Firefighting ranks short

You can fill these boots.

That’s the theme of a new recruiting drive to bolster Calgary fire department ranks by 200 during 2009.

Fire Chief Bruce Burrell said with looming retirements of 130 members this year and another 30 per cent eligible in the next 10 years, it’s critical the department addresses its staffing needs now.

“Especially when the new fire halls are being built to meet the demands of the city growth,” he added.

At a time when other organizations are facing layoffs, the recruitment drive presents an opportunity to Calgarians looking for a stable career, Deputy Chief Ken Uzeloc said.

“We’re offering tremendous opportunities for people to work in a challenging job, and they will never regret it,” Uzeloc added.

Lieut. Stu Laird, a former Calgary Stampeder, said becoming a firefighter is a fulfilling career choice with many opportunities.

“It’s more than being a firefighter on a fire truck … we can make a difference in the community. Every firefighter has a story (like that),” the 20-year veteran said.

The fire department has made it easier for interested applicants by eliminating the $150 application fee and offering first aid classes as opposed to requiring it at application time.

Burrell said a few of those changes alone will save applicants several thousand dollars.

There are currently 1,289 staff members in the fire department.