MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The township will soon be bringing in half a dozen new members to its squad of paid-on-call firefighters.
At a June 12 meeting, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously to allow the Human Resources Department to extend offers of employment to the six new firefighters. According to a memo to the board from Fire Chief Robert Phillips, the recruiting process to fill these open positions has been underway for nearly 18 months — or since Dec. 28, 2011 — but all testing and interviewing of the applicants has only taken place since April.
The township received applications from 12 candidates, who each underwent some preliminary written and physical testing. A group of seven finalists were then interviewed by a selection committee that included Phillips, Township Supervisor Janet Dunn, Township Treasurer Karen Goodhue and Trustee Dino Bucci.
In a subsequent interview, Phillips said that the new firefighters still must complete post-offer procedures, such as a physical examination, a drug test, a psychological evaluation and a background check, but he expects all of them to begin their service on or around July 1.
Phillips noted that, not including the new employees, the Macomb Township Fire Department currently has 79 paid-on-call firefighters and seven full-time officer positions. He stated that his goal has always been to have at least 100 total firefighters in his department, with 25 assigned to each of the township’s four fire stations. However, according to Township Clerk Michael Koehs, that has proven to be a very difficult task.
“We have always had quite a bit of turnover in our staff of paid-on-call firefighters,” he explained. “Things change in their personal lives, and frankly, a lot of them receive offers from full-time fire departments, so they move on.”
Koehs added that the pool of potential firefighters is further limited by the fact that they all must be Macomb Township residents in order to be considered for the job.
Of the six new employees, four are certified firefighters, while two are still only recruits at this point. As Phillips pointed out, the number of hours that paid-on-call firefighters work in Macomb Township varies significantly, but they make about $17 per hour while on standby and about $25 per hour after being called in for duty.
“We have fire protection services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but we operate differently than most other departments,” Phillips said. “Our firefighters are on standby for eight-hour shifts, but some of them work a lot more shifts than others. It all depends on the individual and what they’re able to do.”
Recruits, meanwhile, are not yet full-fledged firefighters but are on track to get there in the near future. Phillips stated that all recruits have 18 months to complete the two phases of their firefighter training, as well as basic emergency medical technician training.
“This is mainly a learning process for them while they undergo their fire and EMT training,” he said. “Until then, they have a very limited role with what they can do on the job because they can only perform the services that they are certified to perform. But it’s a good experience for them to see how our department operates in the meantime.”
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