Fire recruits hot topic at city hall

January 11, 2012 by  

Lexington print services are preparing to support the local fire department with posters, flyers and brochures as they consider recruiting 25 more firefighters.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has announced that in order to stave off a shortage due to attrition and the retirement of 39 firefighters in 2011, the search for replacements will be launched in the next few months.

“The retirements created a need for replacements, but they also put pressure on the current budget,” said Gray at a recent news conference.

The Lexington Urban County Council and Mayor Gray plan to examine the city’s budget thoroughly to look for more money before recruiting. He said some other areas may have to be cut in favor of hiring the replacements.

“We must step back and identify additional cuts,” Gray admitted. “It will be hard for the city budget to afford 25 firefighters, but harder for us not to. Public safety is our top priority, and I’m convinced that the public’s safety requires more firefighters.”

Interim fire chief, Keith Jackson, said a recruitment class needs to be organized quickly, because without new firefighters to replace those who retired, trucks and ladders will have to be taken off the street, possibly jeopardizing public safety.

Jackson said there is a waiting list of applications from which to recruit. It was 2010 when the last recruits completed training and graduated. Once budgets are approved, training of new firefighters should begin in February and will last approximately 18 weeks.

The price tag just for salaries for these 25 new fire department personnel may top $2 million every year.