For the first time in more than three years, the Glendale Fire Department is looking to hire.
Fire officials plan to start accepting applications in August in an effort to hire 15 new firefighters who meet department qualifications, have a good work ethic and are willing to provide community service, Battalion Chief Tom Propst said.
"There is a lot of competition out there and a lot of interest," he said.
The push to hire new firefighters comes after a protracted recession, citywide budget cuts and operational changes in the Fire Department that kept hiring at a standstill despite ongoing retirements. The last group of 10 firefighters was hired in 2010, Propst said.
"We downsized quite a bit over the last few years," he said.
City Manager Scott Ochoa acknowledged during a budget study session this week that the Fire Department had a "great number of vacancies" — more than it would normally have.
While the department hasn't taken on any new firefighters since 2010, officials boosted its ambulance program to offset the loss of 21 firefighter positions due to budget woes.
To meet the demands of the program, the department had to hire 60 part-time emergency medical technicians to work 12-hour shifts.
Some EMTs joined the program to not only learn about the medical calls, but also because they had aspirations of becoming firefighters. And as they did so, the department lost some EMTs to other fire agencies.
"It's bittersweet," Propst said.
Fire officials are expecting between 2,500 and 4,000 applications for the new positions. A written exam will likely occur in September.
The new firefighters must go through a rigorous application process, which includes a background investigation, polygraph test, credit check and written, performance and oral exams.
After passing the application process, fire officials will likely have selected 15 recruits who will begin a 14-week academy in mid-March 2014.
The recruits, who have to be at least 18, will be tested on their ability to rescue a victim, pull hoses, crawl a fiery attic, ventilate a roof and search for survivors.
Once they are hired, the new firefighters will be on probation for a year and can expect to receive a monthly salary of $5,586, as well as healthcare benefits.
For more details about the firefighter job, visit glendalefire.org.