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Flint Fire Department navigates challenges while seeking new recruits

Aside from COVID-19, another challenge facing the fire department is pay
Flint Fire Department navigates challenges while seeking new recruits
Flint Fire Department navigates challenges while seeking new recruits(WJRT)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (04/08/2021) - As COVID-19 cases continue spiking in Michigan, essential workers like firefighters are proving every day that they will step up when they’re called on.

Sometimes, however, even they need help from others.

In Flint, the fire department will soon be dealing with firefighters retiring or moving somewhere else for better pay, and they’re counting on the people living within the community to keep the city and those they love free from damage and destruction.

Still, COVID-19 is putting a strain on essential workers, making even recruiting a difficult process.

”In the past, we were able to go to the schools. We were able to go to the churches. I was able to go downtown to Back to the Bricks and go to The Crim and see young men and women and walk up to them, talk to them, peak their interest, tell them to apply and things like that,” Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said.

Finding a way to recruit during a pandemic isn’t a challenge that’s unique to Flint, but Fire there’s another barrier standing in the way that’s more particular to the Vehicle City: the pay.

”Our financial situation in the city of Flint. When you look at the city lost their tax base through General Motors exiting. At one time, we had a Farmer Jack, a Target, A T.J. Maxx, and GameStop. Just in that little corner, you probably had 500 employees working amongst all those businesses. Now you got two or three shops open up there,” Barton said. 

In Flint, you’re paid to train starting at $10 per hour then once you’re certified in your first year, it’s $12 per hour.

In Saginaw, the city is roughly half the size and population, but the starting pay for certified firefighters is more: $13.49 per hour. 

One Flint firefighter for more than twenty years says it’s not all about the money.

”You’re not going to get any experience anywhere else in Michigan with the amount of fire we fight. Come here, you get your experience and learn this job, and you’re going to learn to love it,” Jack Dorman said. Dorman is also the Union President for Local 352

Applications for recruits will open on Monday, April 12 and will stay open until May 14.  

For more information on the Flint Fire Department, click here.

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