Huntsville Fire and Rescue seeing fewer applicants

Deputy Chief Tim Barnack tells WAAY 31 there isn't one simple answer, but part of the reason is high-paying tech jobs that reduce the applicant pool. To some, it's concerning.

Posted: May 23, 2019 4:57 PM
Updated: May 23, 2019 6:58 PM

Huntsville Fire and Rescue is seeing a drop in recruits, causing some uncertainty for the department's future.

Deputy Chief Tim Barnack tells WAAY 31 there isn't one simple answer, but part of the reason is high-paying tech jobs that reduce the applicant pool. To some, it's concerning.

"My kids were in one of them, a matter of fact, and my brother and his family," Terrell Harlin said, explaining Huntsville Fire and Rescue had to help his family members twice, when their houses caught fire. 

Harlin saw firsthand what the first responders do for the community, and questions why more people don't apply for the job.

"I don't see why not be a fireman?" Harlin said. "Save somebody's life right here at home."

Deputy Chief Barnack says it's not causing a problem right now.

"The last few years, we've seen a drop in the number of applicants applying to be firefighters," Barnack said.

There's a cause for concern if the trend continues.

"If we're not able to fill all those positions, we'd have to look at how we staff the trucks, so that could impact services," Barnack said.

Chief Barnack tells WAAY 31 he started seeing the decline in applicants about 5 years ago. Now, he and his team are ramping up recruitment efforts, and are taking to social media to get the word out. He says being a firefighter comes with include job security, retirement benefits and rewarding experiences. 

Harlin hopes it works, because otherwise, he says...

"There won't be a Fire and Rescue. I can tell you that much."

Huntsville Fire and Rescue has certain periods where it looks to hire. The department will be posting on its social media pages when the next hiring session comes around.

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