Vandalia fire has 10 new part-time hires

Vandalia’s fire department is the latest to increase its part-time hiring.

Fire Chief Chad Follick hired 10 new part-time employees to the fire department recently. That number is high for most suburban departments in the area.

“Our division of fire has six full-time firefighters and ideally needs 50 or so part-timers to round out the staff,” Follick said.

Most departments struggle each year to keep part-time firefighters. Many leave because of their own personal demands, better career opportunities, higher pay at other departments and going back to school.

“Some quite frankly find that they don’t want to or can’t afford to keep working part-time hours for part-time pay and no benefits,” Follick said.

It is not unusual for a part-time firefighter to have a similar position in three different departments, but this makes it difficult for them to find time for paramedic training or other educational opportunities.

Vandalia sees applicants that are younger, 19 or 20 years old, who are at the beginning of their careers in fire service.

Vandalia requires applicants to have a certification as a Firefighter 1/EMT to be hired as a part-time or full-time employee at the department.

The city has money budgeted for each part-time and full-time employee at the fire department and will not fill any spots unless funding is already established.

The starting pay for the part-time positions is between $14 to $15 an hour.

“I tell anyone who asks that being a firefighter was the only job I ever wanted,” Follick said. “This is a job where you can make a positive difference in the lives of others on a daily basis.”

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