1. #1
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    Post Florida--More Jobs than Applicants???

    News-Press.com

    City public safety jobs tough to fill

    Qualified police, fire candidates hard to come by

    By CHARLES RUNNELLS
    CRUNNELLS@NEWS-PRESS.COM
    Published by news-press.com on June 9, 2005

    Where have all the firefighters gone?

    Cape Coral officials ponder that question all the time. Especially as they struggle to meet hiring demands caused by a booming city population, a significant increase in calls and plans to build a new fire station by February.

    "There's a nationwide shortage," said fire Chief Bill Van Helden. "This is a trend that doesn't have any end in sight."

    Decades ago, fire officials could expect about 30 or 40 firefighter wanna-bes to apply at any given time, said Jerry Doviak, head of Cape Coral's firefighter's union. Now, they're lucky if they get a dozen or two.

    In a recent Cape hiring pool, 17 people applied for firefighter jobs, but only 10 actually showed up to be interviewed, Doviak said. And six of those didn't make the cut because of experience, personality issues or other matters.

    "We were left with four," Doviak said. "And we hired those four."

    The city's growth makes it that much harder. The population is now 137,000 and counting.

    "We're being pulled in different directions right now," Doviak said. "We're pretty lean."

    Police are facing similar difficulties, although they're not having quite as tough of a time.

    Police actively go to job fairs and send out hiring notices to colleges nationwide, in hopes of attracting potential candidates to the city.

    "It's always a work in progress," said Sgt. David Newlan. "That's just the way it is.

    "If we did nothing, I think that would show."

    The city's dwindling applicant pool comes from several sources, including relatively low salaries compared to other jobs requiring college degrees, plus the repercussions of Sept. 11, Van Helden said.

    "People are weighing the cost of risking your own life for the dollars," he said.

    The need for police and firefighters comes at a crucial time for the city.

    Police reported 118,389 calls for service last year a 19 percent increase from 2003.

    The fire department saw even more of an increase. It had 16,025 calls for service in 2004, up 29 percent from 2003.

    That's why police and fire departments plan to add new employees.

    The fire department, for example, hired six more firefighters this year, and it plans to hire nine more by the end of the year, said Phil Jackson, the city's human resources director.

    Police hired 10 officers this year, and they plan on hiring 11 more, he said.

    Jackson thinks he'll be able to fill all those positions but he admitted it isn't always easy.

    Firefighters, for example, all draw from an online pool of about 360 current applicants shared by 11 other area fire departments. Only about half of those applicants, however, are already certified. The rest would have to be trained first.

    That presents challenges for Jackson.

    "It's difficult," he said. "I'm not going to say it isn't.

    "We're not fully staffed at any given time, but we work toward that on a continuing basis."

    One particular area of demand is for certified firefighter-paramedics to perform medical services on the scene. All Cape firefighters have training as emergency medical technicians, but paramedics are able to do more extensive medical work before the ambulance arrives.

    "Seventy percent of what we do is respond to medical calls," Van Helden explained. That's why they want more paramedics to better serve the public.

    But it's difficult finding firefighters already trained as paramedics, Doviak said. It takes a special mind-set and a special set of skills.

    "It's almost like blending a white-collar and a blue-collar into one super employee," Doviak said. "They're a precious commodity."

    The Lee County job pool consisting of applications sent to floridafirejobs.org only lists 13 firefighter-paramedics, said Cynthia Zinger, who administers the job site.

    That's why the Cape fire department ends up training many of its own firefighters to become paramedics a slow, time-consuming process that can take a year or two.

    "It's like taking on another part-time job," Van Helden said.

    Firefighter/EMT Tony Demos, 23, has been attending classes after-hours for about a year, and he's two months away from finishing.

    Becoming a paramedic can require two full work days a week in classwork, ride-alongs with other paramedics and other requirements.

    All that training will be worth it, though, Demos said.

    "I can go out on a call, and I'm better able to help people," he said. "That's why I'm doing this."

    Even so, he admitted it isn't always easy putting in extra hours after a 24-hour shift.

    "It's pretty stressful," he said.

    Now Cape staffers are searching harder and more creatively to find top-notch firefighters, Doviak said.

    Both the police and fire departments advertise on state and national job sites, for example.

    On top of that, police send recruiters to job fairs and send notices to various colleges all with the intent of luring people to Cape Coral.

    Police are also advertising at movie theaters, including the theater at Universal Studios in Orlando.

    "We're looking at different marketing ideas," Newlan said. "The Internet is getting more and more popular, and people are going to that for everything."

    Police and firefighters are always trying to keep up with the demand, and that won't likely change in the coming years as the city continues to grow.

    "The city is growing so rapidly," Newlan said, "and we have to keep up with it.

    "It's a constant process."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Fire district approves new stations, needs firefighters

    Personnel hard to keep as east coast cities offer higher pay

    By JUSTIN ST. CLAIR
    JSTCLAIR@LEHIGHNEWSSTAR.COM
    Published by news-press.com on June 22, 2005


    Lehigh's fire district continues to have trouble attracting and retaining firefighters, according to Chief James Cardoza.

    The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District pulls many of its firefighters from Florida's east coast, Cardoza said at Thursday's meeting of the Board of Fire Commissioners.

    Many of them chose to commute to Lehigh rather than move here permanently, he said.

    "Then when a job comes up closer to home and with higher pay, they take it," Cardoza said.

    Lehigh can't compete with the more metropolitan districts on the east coast in terms of salaries, he said.

    The district has 66 firefighter positions, seven of which are now vacant, according to Assistant Chief Jeff Haugh. The district will also have to fill 24 new positions over the next couple of years to man two new planned fire stations.

    Commissioner Barry Ashman suggested the district look into making residency in Lehigh required as a way of retaining more firefighters who come from the east coast.

    "They may get on here and like living here," Ashman said.

    Commissioner Joel Guzman asked if there weren't enough qualified firefighters who were already local.

    Haugh said there is a local shortage of firefighters who are also paramedics.

    Commissioner Steve Haas said the district should look into hiring paramedics who are not firefighters.

    "There are a lot of top-notch paramedics out there that don't want to ride in the fire truck," Haas said.

    About 70 percent of the calls the district receives monthly are for medical emergencies, Haugh said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Are you kidding me? I'm looking for a job and can't get one! Some of it is because I don't have 'paid' experience, some of it because a certain city blows me off when I enquire to a job there (don't know why).

    Another problem is that many of the departments in Florida want Paramedics and minorities more than anything, which is just completely rediculous. Why would you want 5 medics on 1 engine? And back to the good ol' reverse descrimination crap as well.
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    Not sure what to tell you 1219....I did not write the stories...just posted em! LOL

    Do not focus on one city. Use the shotgun approach. Apply everywhere and take the one you get offered first.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    You got to be kidding right? Its about a 2-3 year waiting list to get into the urban fire brigade here and you have to meet a fairly strong criteria.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

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    No, he's not kidding. HUGE shortage of FF's here in Fla. And if you have a Fla paramedic patch just fill out an app, your hired. An exploding polulation and the need for tons of new stations.

    My county isnt building new stations, but there was a massive hireing in the early 80's due to EMS. Alot of these folks are getting ready to retire. Looking at probably 100 openings in the next 2-3 years in my county alone. I work for a 40 member department and in the last year weve had 5 retire and another 5 are getting ready to go.

    Come on down Bro's, the weathers not bad, no state income tax, cost of living is low and you can pretty much pick your spot.

    Just to give you an idea, check out this story from yesterday from the county next to mine (where Tampa is). 14 new stations and 200 FF's in the next couple years.

    http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2005/7/1/104676.html
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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219
    Are you kidding me? I'm looking for a job and can't get one! Some of it is because I don't have 'paid' experience, some of it because a certain city blows me off when I enquire to a job there (don't know why).

    Another problem is that many of the departments in Florida want Paramedics and minorities more than anything, which is just completely rediculous. Why would you want 5 medics on 1 engine? And back to the good ol' reverse descrimination crap as well.
    As far as the minority thing, I think once you get out of the big cities (Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando) that's not much of an issue. The real problem is Fla doesnt accept most out of state FF or EMT/Medic certs. What your probably going to havee to do is come down here and find a non fire job while you get the state certs.

    As for 5 medics on an engine, not quite. But EMS is the big thing here, pretty much every FD runs ALS service. Off hand I dont know of any FD that doesnt require at least the state EMT cert, and most want medics.
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    Dave, hate to be a smartass but I have what's required.

    I have State of Florida and National Pro Board Firefighter II as well as State of Florida and National Registry EMT-B. I have 4 years fire experience and 6 months of EMS experience.

    I thought you knew I was from Florida. I've lived here all my life.
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    1219........I still contend that you use the shotgun effect. Apply everywhere and take what you get. You have to be prepared to relocate. In your area there may not be the demand. But in this area the demand is here and if you have Paramedic to go along with your Fire Certs you are like GOD!

    We had 7 reserve openings and had 12 applicants. Only 7 showed up to test and they all got jobs...
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    1219- check out the websites for the state association:
    fsfa.com, check out the Florida Fire Chiefs Association website, and look at the many departments that have websites. But like Captstanm1 says you might have to relocate.

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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219
    Dave, hate to be a smartass but I have what's required.

    I have State of Florida and National Pro Board Firefighter II as well as State of Florida and National Registry EMT-B. I have 4 years fire experience and 6 months of EMS experience.

    I thought you knew I was from Florida. I've lived here all my life.
    Sorry, my bad. I read the post but didnt pay any attention to who wrote it. Anyway, it must just be the area your looking. The jobs are out there, you just have to look in the right place.
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    Thumbs down Crazy.....................

    I must have a Very Hard Head or something. We have growth up here too, our County has gone from 80,000 to over 850,000 in my lifetime, and the Fire/Rescue Service has kept up, for the most part. In 1941, 22 VFDs operated from 22 stations, now there are 37 Volunteer organizations operating 48 Stations. There are also 2 fully Career stations as well. Staffing has grown from approx. 900 Volunteers in 1941 to over 3,000 Volunteers and 800 Career people today, and we're still recruiting for both groups.

    What works for me may not work elsewhere, but I honestly think that Florida, as a whole, needs a new approach. Several key points:
    1. Stop building FIRE stations. We fully intend to build at least 10 stations in the forseeable future. Most of those stations will NOT house any Fire Apparatus, only EMS Transport units. Since implementing a Total Sprinkler ordinance in 1990, Our Fire operations have been declining while EMS Runs have skyrocketed. So, more stations are needed in newly developed areas, but the Fire load is greatly diminished. So, we build EMS Stations, with the ultimate goal of having at least half of our stations as "EMS Only". An 8 minute wait for a Fire Engine is not unreasonable, but Cardiac Victims need help in half that time.
    2. Use Volunteers. Push for full crews on all apparatus, there is no reason for empty seats. We're running stations that handle Thousands of calls each year, with no, or a very small, Career Crew.
    3. Hire PEOPLE, not Firefighters. We prefer to take in people with no training, and train them ourselves. That way, they can do what we want them to do, and do it our way.
    4. Last, but also foremost, FIND LOTS MORE MONEY! My retirement pay here is more than the pay of people who are still working in Florida, lots more, in some cases.
    Last edited by hwoods; 07-02-2005 at 05:50 PM.
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    hwoods.....you have some excellent points.

    However...the Florida Administrative code (thanks to florida Chiefs and the IAFF) does not allow a department to hire untrained personnel unless they have an academy to put them through. In most places in Florida you can not walk in the door unless you have a minimum of Firefighter II. Some will hire you that way and then allow you to complete EMT. Then you have people (more than qualified) relocating to Florida looking for Fire Jobs. Thanks to the Certification Nazis in Ocala, it takes and act of congress, your first 3 children and about 12 months to get any form of reciprocity. All the fire academies stay full and you often have to wait 6-12 months just to get in and then another 6 months after that to complete the class. It also costs big money and unless you get on someplace that has an academy as part of the department, you have to pay yourself. The schedules are not very conducive to working a job if you take the day class and if you take the night class it is almost as bad except it takes you almost 8 months to finish.

    And now they are placing a great deal of requirements on volunteers (not saying they should not) for training, but again, the classes are not available. I know of a small department in a retirement community that mostly runs EMS calls and is backed up on fires by the County Department who also does their ALS and transports. These folks are all retired firefighters from north (snow birds) and have been fighting fire for years. Now Florida says they have to go through all this training or lose their department. I suppose they will fold.....and then....as has been the plan, the County Fire Department which is extremely understaffed will take over another fire station they can not handle.

    harve....move to Florida and run for governor or take over the Fire College!!!!!
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    I really don't understand why TFD is the way they are. Everyone around here thinks they are the shiznit, but I have to disagree. They aren't my first choice but they're better than nothing. I know someone who's going through standards right now and I asked him where he wanted to work. His answer was 'same place overyone else wants to work.' He elaborated on it meaning TFD. From personal research, TFD will bow down and worship minorities upon them applying.

    The last time I checked, Jackson County still only starts at 18,000. That's very sad indeed. What's the point in driving an hour or more every day for that? There's also a certain LT there I told to f-off when he mad fun of me for being a volunteer while I was doing clinicals. He despises me and the feeling is mutual.

    Every time I search for a job, most of them want medics. For a while there, I had that pesky little BS tobbacco hurdle holding me back. It's been over a year now, so now it's not a problem.
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    $18K, WTF?!

    Hey Bro's, you need to head down state. Starting FF/EMT around here averages $35K with more for medics.
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    im already down here dave fully trained Ohio FF@ Nationally Registered Paramedic.....but none of that means S**T, i am still trying to get responses from DOH on medic, and might have to give up on fire, my training is the same as florida,but it is only 240 hours for FF2, any help? ideas? suggestions?
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    PS I miss the Brotherhood!!!!!
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    fyrguy, I can neither confirm nor deny that name.

    Dave could you send me information nn hiring in your department?
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    http://www.fsfa.com/jobsopen.html

    Looks real promising.
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    anyone know whats up with the Dept. of health?....i cant get them to answer emails or get past the receptionist with my questions when i call them. all i get is wait on your packet....any one have an insider up there i could contact?
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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219
    fyrguy, I can neither confirm nor deny that name.

    Dave could you send me information nn hiring in your department?
    I could if we were. Weve already replaced the retired folks. The newbies were on before the others left. The job market here is booming. Pretty much first come, first serve.
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    I could if we were.
    The job market here is booming.
    How could it be booming if you guys aren't hiring? Deson't make since to me.

    I'm still going to have to throw the BS flag at the original article. I'm still looking for a job and still can't find one.
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    St. Pete has jobs available, firefighter/medic, Lealman i believe is hiring, Pinellas park has a position, Gulfport and I beleive St. pete Beach are looking, so start applying.
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    Originally posted by Firefighter1219



    How could it be booming if you guys aren't hiring? Deson't make since to me.

    I'm still going to have to throw the BS flag at the original article. I'm still looking for a job and still can't find one.

    I dont know why that doesnt make sense. As soon as somebody leaves, we hire, pretty much the first one that comes along. We arent hiring today, but we have another half dozen or more getting ready to retire. Its the same story county wide. I work for the county ambulance part time. Every one I know there that has gone to fire school gets hired on an FD as soon as they get their state fire cert.

    Dude, I dont know what to tell you then. There are lots of jobs out there. You must be loooking in the wrong places.
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    Default Interesting...

    I looked hard at Florida pending AF retirement this year. They all seem to pay "OK" but you can do better. A major roadblock I had was their stance on nationally registered paramedics. I spoke with a couple of HR folks at different departments and they spoke of the challenging state exam. Kind of turned me off instantly. Not in fear of the "challenging state exam", as I have over 20 years of experience and teach the paramedic curriculum. My problem is why move to Florida and go through "all that" when experienced fire/medics are needed everywhere and the pay reflects that need - but you don't have to waste your time "meeting their standard" which isn't neccesarily higher than the one you've already attained. FL might do themselves a favor by accepting the registry. Just my .02
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