A $2 million grant will allow Central Pierce Fire & Rescue to hire 11 firefighters and reinstate a ladder truck company that was eliminated last month because of to staffing limitations.
The department received 175 applications within two days of posting the job openings. Administrators expect about 700 people to put in for the positions before the application process closes Feb. 22.
The hires will enable one of the departments two ladder trucks to go back in service at the Parkland station, 100 S. 114th St., Deputy Chief Keith Wright said.
It will restore service to the level we had it at, back to the level we feel is appropriate, he said.
The truck was put out of commission at the beginning of the year when fire officials determined it was too expensive to keep operating. And as firefighters retired and the budget remained too crunched to hire, the 250-member staff slowly dwindled.
Our firefighter numbers had decreased to a point where we couldnt afford to keep that truck in service because we were having to staff it with overtime ,and it was costing us way too much money, Assistant Chief Randy Stephens said.
Before the cut, two of the departments 12 stations had ladder trucks. They were at the downtown Puyallup station, 902 Seventh St. NW, and the Parkland station, 100 S. 114th St.
Although the Parkland station is the busiest, with crews running 3,601 calls last year, administrators decided to close the ladder truck there because the station also has a fire engine. To keep response times quick, they moved the remaining ladder truck to a Summit station at 5401 136th St. E.
The placement is the most centralized, allowing the truck to serve a wider swath of the departments 90-square-mile district, Stephens said.
To help offset the loss of the ladder truck in Parkland, fire officials brought back a Telesquirt, which is a shorter ladder truck. It sports a 50-foot-long ladder instead of the usual 100-foot ladder.
The Telesquirt was to be taken out of rotation and sold, but Central Pierce is holding onto it at least until the ladder truck makes its return. Wright was not sure when that will be.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded Central Pierce the $2 million staffing grant last month. It pays for 11 firefighter positions for the next two years with one stipulation: The department must give priority to applicants who have been laid off from firefighting jobs or are post-9/11 veterans.
Although the grant lasts only two years, Wright who will take over as chief in March said hes confident the department can support new hires in the future.
We will more than likely keep them around based on retirements that are coming, he said.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
HOW TO APPLY
Applications seeking jobs with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue can be submitted online at www.centralpiercefire.org.