COLUMBUS, Ohio — More firefighters are leaving the Columbus Division of Fire than they are hiring. With an application deadline looming, the department is hoping to get as many applications as possible.
“There has never been a greater need for Columbus Firefighters/EMT's and paramedics than right now,” said Columbus Firefighters Union President, Steve Stein.
Stein argues the city needs to hire more firefighters to make sure firefighters and EMTs are able to get to emergency situations right away.
“Everybody helps, we need more. This is, unfortunately, not a problem that happened overnight. While we look forward to every additional Columbus firefighter that we can put on trucks and put in stations, it's going to take more than 25,” Stein contends.
In his budget proposal, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced he was hoping city council will approve a new class for both Columbus police and Columbus fire.
“We need people. Our attrition rate right now is through the roof in numbers. We cannot keep those people any longer, and we have to hire more people and we cannot do it quickly enough,” Stein argued.
In 2019, the division hired 75 recruits and had 66 firefighter separations. In 2020, 70 recruits were hired with 80 firefighter separations. In 2021, 90 were hired with 96 firefighter separations.
“I don't know how else to say, or who else to tell, but we have got to get more Columbus firefighters and EMTs and paramedics. There's just no other way to put it,” Stein said.
The Columbus Division of Fire says now is the perfect time to apply, if you are interested.
They will take applications through 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 31st, 2022, and they will pull from that list and only that list for at least the next two years.
“The mayor has increased our hiring, but we are down people. It's time for us, we have to get these classes in and people on the street,” said Columbus Battalion Chief Steve Martin.
Stein argues the city has grown about 14% in the last decade, and the number of firefighters in the department hasn't kept up.
“We commissioned a study based on industry best practices, and I know the city also has a Matrix report that we look forward to reviewing as well. Our report has indicated that we are between 200-400 firefighters short to keep up with the growth of the city,” Stein said.
If you are interested in learning about becoming a firefighter, click here.