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Birmingham Fire & Rescue seeks high school students to join the workforce

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 8:10 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Fire & Rescue is recruiting high school students to join a program designed to help them become part of the team right after graduation.

The department is working with Birmingham City Schools to create a pipeline of candidates to become firefighters.

They’re hoping to get students excited about the field early because interest has declined over the years.

Birmingham Fire & Rescue’s Public Safety Academy is currently being offered to Huffman and Parker High School students with plans to expand to all seven Birmingham City high schools in the future.

“It allows us to create a diverse workforce from within our community. So, we take our high school sophomores and juniors and put them into a public safety academy that trains them to pursue a career in the field of the fire service,” said Battalion Chief of Birmingham Fire & Rescue Service, Sebastian Carrillo.

Chief Carrillo said the best way to build a quality workforce is to start within the community.

He said recruiting high school students who are passionate about fire and rescue helps ensure the longevity of their careers in Birmingham.

“You’re talking about a high school student that can come out of high school and go straight into a career making $38,000 a year as an entry level candidate. So, it really sets them up for success early in life,” Chief Carrillo said.

But interest in the field is waning and the department is dealing with call-offs, leaves of absence, and COVID.

Chief Carrillo said the department hasn’t experienced any laps in service to the community because of these shortages, but it’s using several different approaches to lure more people into the job.

“We have a very robust Facebook, Twitter, you know, all of our social media accounts. Throughout the region, we’re suffering trying to recruit paramedics, so the City of Birmingham has recently instituted a sign-on bonus. That’s something we’ve never had to do before.”

Chief Carrillo said the sign-on bonus is $5,000 for paramedics to come work for the City of Birmingham.

He said the city has also increased the pay scale for entry level positions in hopes of enticing more people to join.

Student can learn more about THE PUBLIC SAFETY ACADEMY by talking to their guidance counselors or contacting Fire & Rescue directly.

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