Wichita Falls Fire Department promotional ladder

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls city council approved a resolution Tuesday changing the promotional eligibility for firefighters.
But it left some council members concerned.
The Firefighters Association brought up this issue last year.
The civil service law for promotion has been two years in Wichita Falls for a long time.
With this change, there are concerns that recruitment and retention could suffer.
But Jon Reese, the Wichita Falls Fire Chief, believes it is important to have the very best serving the city.
For years when someone joined the fire department, it took two years before they could be promoted to Fire Equipment Operator.
    "What we require the Fire Equipment Operator's to do is step up to Lieutenant, which is the first line of supervisor," Chief Reese said. "And they are making very critical decisions on the fire ground and emergency scenes."
That's one reason why Chief Reese favors the promotion time change to five years.
    "By changing from two years to five years, it allows a more well-rounded, more experienced person," Chief Reese said. "It gives them a little bit more time to get their feet wet before actually going into that supervisory position."
But some Wichita Falls city council members showed concern about the new law hurting recruiting and could run some current fire fighters off.
    "Any kind of agreement that you go into, you don't know if it's going to work as planned," Chief Reese said. "Having the sunset provision allows us to go back and say we made a mistake if this isn't working the way we thought."
Darron Leiker, the City Manager of Wichita Falls, said the sunset provision will allow the city to change the law back if they see a negative impact.
    "There's a 60 day out clause so either party can pull the plug on that and go back to the two year requirement with just 60 days notice," Leiker said.
For comparison, in Frisco a firefighter only has to be with the department four years before being eligible for promotion.
In Denton it is three years.
It's even shorter in Lubbock, were it's two years.
City leaders and fire officials will watch for smoke from this change in policy.
    "We are going to be monitoring it closely to make sure there's not any unintended consequences from the change," Leiker said.
    "Ultimately, what we are trying to do is recruit and retain the very best," Chief Reese said.
He added the department wants to spend their time and efforts the first couple years teaching new recruits how to be the best firefighters they can be, rather than how to be a supervisor.
He is optimistic the change will allow for more personal development.
The change only applies to being eligible for the first promotion.
After that firefighters can move up every two years.
Those firefighters who have been with the department for less than two years are grandfathered in and will not have to follow the new change.

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