Metro Detroit communities are suffering a firefighter shortage

(WXYZ) - The city of Wayne has 14 firefighters and they're looking to hire a handful more, but the only problem is they're not getting people in the door. It's also not a problem unique to the city, it's happening across metro Detroit.

Andrew Stager is a captain in the city of Wayne Fire Department, and he has been a firefighter for more than 20 years. He said the job isn't about just fighting fires now, the job duties have changed.

"We're doing fire prevention, fire inspections, going out to schools, teaching kids fire safety," Stager said. 

Other duties include EMS, but recently, Stager said it's been hard getting people to apply.

"There are openings out there," he said. Wayne has four open positions. Other cities have more.

Southgate has five positions open, Hamtramck has four, Redford Township has four, and Farmington Hills has nine.

The reason? Fire chiefs say the training is rigorous and getting a paramedic license takes well over a year, and that doesn't include the firefighter academy.

"All cities are struggling with hiring," Wayne City Manager Lisa Nocerini said.

Other departments have had to adjust. West Bloomfield Township is now hiring people who have their paramedic license and are willing to go through the fire academy. In Wayne, they've lowered their hiring standards. Now, they're taking people who have fire training along with a basic EMS license instead of a paramedic.

“We actually see more fires than we see more EMS runs," Stager said. "It’s not getting lower, it’s getting higher and we have to respond."

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