FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno Fire Department is hiring for the first time in four years and, for the first time in more than a decade, the recruitment drive is open to the public.

“You don’t need to have formal fire training and this is the first time we’ve done an open recruitment like this in close to 15 years,” said Shane Brown with the Fresno Fire Department.

Brown says the only requirement is having an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification, which can be completed during the recruitment process.

“The national standard is that a fire department should have one firefighter for every thousand people in the population.  So, what that means is that Fresno in theory should have close to 540 firefighters — we have 270.”

The fire department has been short staffed for quite some time and Brown says with past year challenges, adding to the family in 2021 is much needed.

“I mean the recession of 2008/9 there’s still reverberations felt through the entire fire department because of that time frame.  Last year you know with COVID, there were so many challenges going on that I think some stuff kind of got pushed aside.”

In 2020, Fresno Fire had a record breaking year and responded to an estimated 5,800 fires which is 2,000 more fires fought in a single year for the department and Brown says the workload is tremendous.

“What gets done daily here, it still astounds me how 81 people protect 540,000 that’s just amazing so I wouldn’t do any other job and I think the majority of the firefighters you talk to would say the same thing.”

Fresno Fire is hoping to hire 42 new firefighters which would bring their daily staffing number up from 81 to 95.

“This is not an easy job and it’s not an easy job to get and it’s not an easy job to keep, so you know, we only want the best of the best, but we also want everyone to take a look at this.”

The hiring process can take months up to around a year and Fresno Fire wants anyone of any background who’s interested to put in an application.