CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – New faces will soon fill the stations of the Charleston Fire Department.
Training kicks off Monday for one of the largest classes of incoming fire fighters in a decade.
“We’ve had a hard time recruiting,” Captain Mark Strickland said Sunday. ”We've found that locally it's just tough to get paramedics.”
The Charleston Fire Department is one of a few departments in the state that recruits firefighters already trained to be a paramedic.
Strickland said because it has been an especially tough search within Kanawha County; 11 of the 13 new firefighters are from out of state. The majority is from Ohio, one is from Kentucky and two are from West Virginia.
Before the trainees can hit the streets, they must undergo a 15 week training class.
The class covers everything from firefighting to water and vehicle rescue and refines their paramedic skills.
The new faces come as a sign of relief for some of the current crew because the department has been understaffed.
“We work a 24, 48 schedule,” Strickland said, adding “we're on for 24 hours a day, off for 48 hours -- with our retirements and vacancies we have had to pick up extra hours and that does wear on people after a while.”
Once the 13 firefighters complete training they will be required for three years to complete monthly coursework through an apprenticeship program.