Warren Fire Department ready to increase hiring game


The Town of Warren is looking to find, train and hire firefighters. Applicants must be 18 years old and residency is not required.

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WARREN – Down 18 from its budgeted staffing level and competing with other agencies to fill its ranks and keep equipment running, the Warren Fire Department is getting creative in its efforts to find, train and hire firefighters / paramedics.

Pending ink on a final deal between the city and the union, the process could be shifted into high gear in the coming weeks, with up to 30 spots available in an apprenticeship program that officials say will bring candidates to the department for paid education with the support of a part-time salary, training with the service and possibly full-time employment at competitive firefighter / paramedic salary.

“We plan to sponsor children, young people. We will pay their expenses for the fire academy and we will be accepting nominations very soon, ”said Warren Fire Marshal Wilburt“ Skip ”McAdams.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and residency is not a requirement.

McAdams said the application window is scheduled to open on October 25 and the apps will be available for download on the city’s website. They can be dropped off directly at the City’s Human Resources Department between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or at an open house scheduled in the Warren Town Hall Atrium from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on November 6.

McAdams said all potential applicants have been encouraged to attend the open house, where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers. The application window, McAdams said, will close at the end of the open house, where applicants will also have the option to schedule oral juries.

The city will then pay up to 30 selected candidates to take the Basic Emergency Medical Technician Training Course at Dorsey College in Madison Heights. McAdams said the city will pay for all costs associated with this training and will also offer support in the form of an educational supplement during training for up to 28 hours per week in salary.

“Those who complete this class will move on to the Fire Academy in January or February 2022,” McAdams said.

After the 10-week academy, McAdams said candidates could be hired full-time in the spring, pending an agreement between the city and Local 1383 of the Warren Professional Firefighters Union. In the fall of 2022, McAdams said the agreement and contract rider would require the creation of an additional classification within the department, as all firefighters in Warren must undergo cross-training as paramedics.

“We’re getting out of here, but what else are we going to do?” There just aren’t enough applicants, ”McAdams said.

He added, “We invest in them and we want them to commit to us. We want them to be successful and we are going to remove as many barriers as possible so that they can be successful and have a career in firefighters.

Part of the deal would involve a salary increase for Warren’s full-time firefighters / paramedics, making that regular salary more competitive with neighboring municipalities. Warren is currently on the lower end of the salary scale at $ 70,072 per year. McAdams said making the department competitive would mean increasing that salary from $ 5,000 to $ 8,000.

Meeting operational staffing needs during the pandemic and manpower shortage, keeping fire stations open and all service equipment on duty has meant asking city firefighters / paramedics to work overtime. McAdams said the department is on track to rack up $ 2.5 million in overtime in the current fiscal year that ends June 30 if workforce issues persist. This is more than double the budgeted amount of $ 1.2 million.

“Up to a point, there’s probably a savings in paying employee overtime, but in the long run, you’re losing out on retirement costs,” McAdams said. “It’s better to hire people to do the job.

Not to mention the pressure exerted by the number of overtime on teams working 24-hour shifts.

“It’s better to have a workforce of the right size than to rely on overtime to meet your staffing needs,” McAdams said.

Joe Schehr, a Warren firefighter / paramedic and union local president, said he could not discuss details of the plan pending an agreement with the city.

“We are in discussion with them. We are working on an agreement in principle with the city, improving the collective agreement, our contract, essentially making us more competitive in the market, ”Schehr said. “We’ve lost firefighters to other municipalities, so we’re trying to attack this from two approaches. We are trying to recruit and retain new men and women for the fire department.

He said the deal had not been finalized, but said the parties were working towards a common goal.

“We want to have a fully staffed fire department,” Schehr said. “It’s our common goal, to have a fully staffed service, so that we can go back to a full workforce. Because at the moment, the firefighters have really kept all positions open. They come every day, many of them even overtime, working countless extra shifts, just to make sure that every day the citizens, when they pick up the phone and need our help, that we are here.

Schehr said a full complement would put 40 firefighters on duty every shift at Warren’s six fire stations. With the shortage, he said the department could operate with all stations open and all equipment on duty with a minimum of 34 firefighters per shift, some of whom are working overtime.

Of course, overtime for fire station staff means more time away from families and their own lives.

“It just shows the commitment of all these men and women to the residents and the city we serve,” Schehr said. “These guys are missing family functions. They miss birthdays. They miss the holidays. But again, this is the commitment we all share to the community, to the people. The people of the city have always supported us and we will always support them.

“I think the mayor, the administration and the union really came together to make sure everything stays in service,” Schehr said.

Sources said the cost for the city to have 30 people complete the basic EMT training course in Dorsey would be around $ 52,000 for tuition and fees. After that, the cost of the Fire Academy for the 30 people would be around $ 105,000. The city’s cost for the paramedic course starting in 2022 would be around $ 115,000 for the 30 applicants.

“I’m excited about this because right now it’s very difficult and stimulating to have firefighters all over the country, not just in Warren,” said Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

He said recruiting young people who live in the city and who have a stake in its future by providing education, financial support, good social benefits and a chance to start a career as a firefighter / paramedic is a “proposition that young people might not turn down. “

“It’s a small price,” Fouts said. “It is well worth the investment.”

Warren City Councilor Garry Watts said he has been concerned about fire department personnel levels for years.

“I think it’s a start,” Warren City Councilor Garry Watts said of the plan to jumpstart the hiring process. “I don’t think we can do it any faster than that, to be honest. They dragged their feet for so long.

Watts said any plan to bring people on board would certainly require a more attractive salary and benefits to make Warren a “go-to” service, as he has said in the past, and not a “go-to” service. passage ”, where firefighters hire, gain experience and move to greener pastures.

He said city officials had cut wages and benefits for years in favor of building up the city’s cash reserves and now struggled to regain competitiveness and hire staff, even beyond the difficulties observed elsewhere in public service personnel.

“I don’t think there’s an excuse to be brief,” Watts said. “I think if we have a hiring list, if we get the pay and benefits where it needs to be, there will always be someone on that list.”

Beyond what may soon be a competitive salary, paid education and advanced training, Schehr said candidates will step in the door to a career in a large department.

“We are a very traditional fire department. We are still fighting fires. We are active with this, ”Schehr said. “We have a large number of men and women who are employed by the city and you won’t go wrong coming to our department.

“We are a big family of firefighters. We’ve always been like this, always will be, ”said Schehr.

Nominations will be available on the city’s website at www.cityofwarren.org starting October 25. They can be submitted directly at the Open House on November 6, which will be held in the City Hall Atrium at 1 City Square, east of Van Dyke Avenue and north. of 12 Mile Road, or the Human Resources department at the same address before the end of the open house.

For more information, call (586) 574-4670.

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