DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Over the last several years, fire departments across the country have seen a high demand for firefighters while interest is starting to run low.
The Dothan Fire Department has seen a decrease of applicants, going from hundreds of applicants down to 20 or 30.
“We’re all encouraging our children to go get that four-year degree and to do something that’s not a trade,” Dothan Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Chris Etheridge said. “We see all of the trades. Police, fire, plumbing, electrical are in such high demand right now because there’s just so few people applying for those jobs.”
As for Houston County, there are 17 volunteer departments covering the are, but now it’s hard to find people to volunteer.
“Those departments are always looking for good individuals, recruits that can come in and volunteer their time, go through some training, work for the community, and help to save lives with public safety and things of that nature,” Houston County Fire Association President Chris Judah said.
Because of the low number of applicants, the department advertises jobs every six months, and in order to reach those still in school, DFD offers an explorer program that offers hands-on career activities to 14 to 19-year-olds.
“They can come in and start learning some of that trade, get the bug if you will, and really develop that passion for public safety and firefighting,” Etheridge said. “Our new training center here where we’re at is definitely showing people that we’re investing in our firefighters and police officers.”
Anyone interested in attending a scheduled training, becoming a Dothan fire firefighter, or attending a candidate physical ability test mentorship session should contact the training division.
As for the county, you can contact your volunteer fire department to see what you can do to help.