WICHITA FALLS, TX (TNN) - Wichita Falls fire department is feeling the heat with the firefighter shortage continuing to rise. Chief Donald Hughes talked with city leaders about his plan to bring the department’s training academy back in the house.
“Currently, our problem is our shortage. We are 12 people short, so those positions have to be filled every day. The overtime that is being generated, the length of the academy, and some of those issues we just feel like it would be better if we brought it back in-house,” said Fire Chief Donald Hughes.
Hughes asked the city council if the department could bring the training program back to the city. Vernon College has provided a training program for the WFFD for the last three years.
The fire chief says the department can train recruits faster and that trainees are not getting a chance to experience the firefighter culture they can offer.
“Our guys get to spend more time with them. We get to see more of what they’re like, if they’re getting it, and if they are learning the way we want them to,” said Hughes.
Running the program at the station would give the fire department a chance to combat the shortage of firefighters which is the root of his problem.
“When we are more on our schedule, it easier for us to plan and see the vacancy that we have coming due to retirement or whatever reason, and our academy is shorter,” said Hughes.
The fire department says holding the training at the station is a big help with the recruitment process because recruits will receive a salary while in training.