ATLANTA — The Atlanta Fire Department is desperate to hire more than 100 new firefighters so they can be fully staffed.
Retirements and resignations are the primary reasons Atlanta Fire is low on first responders.
Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston learned that to make up for the 117 vacancies, all firefighters are working overtime and extra shifts.
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“We are in a different space now, and we are looking to hire some worthy and qualified people,” Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith.
Smith says dozens of firefighters are ready to retire and, since the pandemic, dozens more have decided to leave the department. All of these decisions have left Chief Smith searching for candidates year round instead of at a few job fairs a year.
“We too are going through the same spaces all other employers are going through,” Smith explained.
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He says the shortage hasn’t affected their response times to a call, but it has forced them to work longer hours.
Huddleston spoke with George Raymond, who says it’s his first day on the job as a firefighter/EMT.
“When you’re listening to the radio, you don’t understand what everybody is saying yet, so when you see other people jumping up and moving, you’re like, ‘Oh, I gotta go now too, so it’s exciting,’” Raymond said.
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The starting pay for firefighters/EMT is at $40,000.
To help fill the void, the chief has been able to hire back some of the firefighters who have already retired.
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