West Bloomfield Fire Department changes hiring policies to attract more talent

By: Maddie Forshee | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 8, 2018

 A West Bloomfield firefighter works to put out a fire in Sylvan Lake in December.

A West Bloomfield firefighter works to put out a fire in Sylvan Lake in December.

Photo provided by the West Bloomfield Fire Department

 A West Bloomfield Fire Department truck is pictured outside a structure fire on Fieldview Avenue in West Bloomfield in 2017.

A West Bloomfield Fire Department truck is pictured outside a structure fire on Fieldview Avenue in West Bloomfield in 2017.

Photo provided by the West Bloomfield Fire Department

WEST BLOOMFIELD — For those who want to fulfill their childhood dream of becoming a firefighter but haven’t been certified, now is your chance to do so in West Bloomfield. 

The West Bloomfield Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a change in Fire Department hiring policies for firefighters April 23. 

Fire Chief Greg Flynn told the board that he thinks the change will increase interest in firefighter jobs.

“Quite honestly, there are fewer and fewer people going into public service,” he said. “We’ve seen it decline over the years, where our (candidate) selection has gone down. This is an opportunity for young people to see that public service is a good career.” 

Previously, the department required all applicants to have completed fire academy training and have their Firefighter Level I and Level II certifications; now, applicants have the option of going to the fire academy and getting those same certifications after being hired into the department.

Training Capt. Mark Lawry said the goal of the department is to hire great people to join the team and stay until they retire. 

“I like this policy,” said Lawry. He teaches at the Oakland Community College Fire Training Institute, so he’s looking forward to the change. “It gives me an opportunity to see them in action before they show up. If I watch them earn it, I know where their skill set is.”  

The change slightly affects firefighters’ probationary period of one year, which begins after the firefighter returns from the 11-week training. The West Bloomfield Fire Department will cover the costs of fire school for new hires. 

Once new firefighters return and go through their yearlong probationary period, they will be on par training-wise with other firefighters in the department. 

“A lot of our expertise comes with experience,” said Lawry. “A lot of that is doing what we do. ... We need people, but we need the right people. We’re now just willing to train you to the requirement. If you don’t have it but you’re a fit, we’ll train you.” 

The department is currently accepting applications to fill four full-time firefighter positions. 

“There are plenty of opportunities for those going into emergency response,” said Flynn. “We feel that this change will hopefully spark some interest. … (Firefighting) is an avenue that (people) can engage in a very successful career. This is a job that is very rewarding.” 

Click for more information on WBFD’s hiring policies and its open positions.