Tacoma fills vacancies with 20 new firefighters

The first of 20 new firefighters hired by Tacoma Fire have started their shifts.

Several of the firefighters began work Wednesday, and others will start Monday, after some specialized training, spokesman Joe Meinecke said.

They were sworn in June 30 after 13 weeks of training on topics such as fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and hazardous materials operations.

It’s the first class the department has had in a couple years, and is bigger than the average group of recruits, which ranges from 12 to 16 Meinecke said.

“We kind of hit that tipping point again where we had to hire new employees to replace those who have been retiring,” he said. “It’s not additional firefighters, they’re just replacing vacancies.

“We needed to get these folks online so we have enough to cover our minimal daily staffing.”

The new recruits work as probationary firefighters for one year, “until they demonstrate they have the skills to be a full-fledged firefighter,” Meinecke said.