Johnson City Fire Department seeking candidates to fill five spots

Gary B. Gray • Oct 5, 2012 at 10:33 PM

The Johnson City Fire Department will be hiring five firefighters to bolster its lineup.

Chief Mark Scott said there are plenty of qualified candidates out there, and he hopes to get a full field of applicants during the registration period for the firefighter examination, which begins Monday and runs through Oct. 19.

The first thing candidates need to do is fill out an application with the city’s Human Resources Department during the registration period. All applicants will be notified to take a written exam. A physical agility test comes next.

“Once that’s completed, they will go through a background check and polygraph, and then we’ll begin the interviews,” Scott said. “It will take until January to get to a point where we’ve ranked the candidates from top to bottom. We can usually get through the interview process in two to three days. We hired nine personnel last year, and they are top-notch.”

Three of the firefighter positions were previously frozen, meaning the spots remained open but unfilled. One person retired; one left to take another job.

Scott said the department has been trying to rebuild the fire marshal’s office, and the new hires will allow him to add an additional person in that office.

“We originally had four slots there,” he said. “We’ve had three there since the first of the year. Two people left the department, and Sam McClain was reassigned to the suppression division. That left me with Lori Ratcliff (assistant fire marshal). Since then we’ve added two to that office, and we’ve spent a lot of money on their training. We plan to promote one person from within the department to join them.”

Scott plans to hire five firefighters, which will allow for a promotion of one person to the fire marshal’s office. Two firefighters will be promoted to the training division and the other two positions will be firefighters in suppression units.

Minorities and females are encouraged to apply, and there is no discrimination based on age, Scott said.

“We’ve hired people in the 40s,” he said.

Scott said the job is more demanding than it used to be. For example, when he first joined, the department was answering about 700 to 800 calls a year. Now, the department answers about 9,000 calls a year.

“People should be looking at this as being a career,” he said. “Today, if a person gets promoted, they get a 10 percent pay increase.”

The department has 120 members, 110 of whom are dedicated to fire suppression, Haz-Mat and medical first response operations. The department operates three shifts with approximately 35 firefighters working per 24-hour shift. Firefighters respond from nine fire stations, operating nine pumpers, three ladder trucks and one incident command vehicle.

It is comprised of a mix of a mix of paramedics, emergency medical technicians and first responders. Nine engine companies, equipped with automated external defibrillators, IV fluids and vehicle extrication equipment, respond to medical emergencies and motor vehicle accidents as required.

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