LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lansing Fire Department is having trouble recruiting new talent. It’s part of a nationwide trend where people just aren’t entering the field anymore.
It’s stacking additional pressure on the force here in Lansing.
“Our call volume continues to go up, but our number of people wanting to get into the industry continues to go down, and it’s a struggle,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Tobin.
Tobin says the ‘help wanted’ sign is posted.
“Currently here in Lansing we have 17 vacancies within the Lansing Fire Department and it’s not even fluctuating up and down, it’s progressively getting worse,” said Tobin.
And Tobin says more staff are leaving in the fall.
LFD says it is getting about 7% more calls each year but is getting fewer and fewer people to respond to those calls.
“Typically where are cuts made first? And that’s public safety. So a lot of people see that as a negative to come into this career field,” said Tim Baker of Lansing Community College.
Fire departments are using incentives to lure new applicants with things like sign-on bonuses and free training.
Many firefighters are just moving from one department to another.
“It’s not bringing new blood into the fire departments, it’s recycling employees that have already been employed in other departments,” said Jerald James with the Michigan Association of Firefighters.
Tobin says Lansing firefighters are still carrying the load but it’s getting tougher and tougher.
“Now I have another firefighter, that instead of working their standard, they are working one or two or three or four overtime shifts a month, and those are 24-hour shifts. Even with the vacancies, our firefighters, and paramedics, EMTs, are still responding to every single call, we are still providing a high level of service. We will be there if you call 911,” said Tobin.