BURTON (WJRT) -
(07/10/14) - A shift in our local economy over the past two decades has taken a toll on many here in Mid-Michigan. Today, local fire departments are having some trouble filling positions.
There may not be a "help wanted" sign hanging on the front door, but the Burton Fire Department is certainly in need of some help.
"We're looking for some paid, on-call fire fighters, mostly day time response," said Burton fire chief Marvin Epperson.
A staff of 65 has dwindled to 50.
"We'd like to get up to 57 or 60," Epperson said.
It's the first order of business for the brand new fire chief, who has been on the job for about 10 days now. He has the help of assistant chief Kirk Wilkinson, who has been with the department for the past 18 years.
"When I first got in, it wasn't a big problem," Wilkinson said.
Much has changed over nearly two decades.
"Over the course of the years, I think a big factor was GM leaving town, the number of second and third shift jobs decreasing and people being forced to either relocate or find a different job, which put them working their main job during day shift, really cut down on the day-shift firefighters," Wilkinson said.
The trick now is finding people who work second or third shift jobs that can respond to fire calls during the day.
"It will be a challenge. I think there are people out there to do it. I think the big thing is getting the word out there that we need these people," Wilkinson said.
Applications are being accepted at Burton City Hall.
There are a few requirements: You will need to pass a background check, live in the city and have a valid drivers license and GED or high school diploma.