Warren sees increase in applicants for entry-level firefighter
By Ed Runyan
The hiring situation in the Warren Fire Department has seen a dramatic upswing since early this year when a test for entry-level firefighters produced only 20 candidates to fill almost that many openings.
The department hired nine of the 20 candidates, but it still has seven positions to fill.
Because so few people took and passed the test, the Warren Civil Service Commission had to give another test April 29 to provide additional candidates.
But this time, 84 candidates took the test, and 57 passed.
Fire Chief Ken Nussle called that “the most [candidates] we’ve seen in quite some time.”
The fire department is hiring firefighters under a $2.4 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters grant, which will pay the salaries and benefits for about 15 firefighters this year and next.
Nussle said he’s aware of only one thing that was different leading up to the April 29 test – Pastor Todd Johnson, a civil service commissioner, had an information day at his church, Second Baptist on Main Avenue Southwest, to spread awareness about the test and careers in firefighting.
Nussle didn’t attend the event, but he said it “appears it had some influence, given the number of applicants.”
He said a current firefighter and a former firefighter attended, telling applicants what the job entails and “making applicants aware that this is open to everyone.”
Nussle said with this many people taking and passing the test, it’s likely the new hiring list will provide the fire department with an adequate number of candidates the next two years.
Meanwhile, the list of 57 candidates also provided the fire department with something else it didn’t get the last time the test was given – several minority candidates.
Among those who passed are one woman and two black males.
The fire department has never had a female firefighter and has not hired a black male in 25 years, despite efforts to encourage minorities to take the test.