By Desiree Williams
Ever since Station 93 opened in Zionsville without the hiring of additional firefighters, the Zionsville Fire Dept. has been below ideal staffing levels. Firefighters are often required to do mandatory callbacks and work overtime to keep the stations running.
That is about to change.
With an incoming class of 16 recruits, ZFD Chief James VanGorder said the department will meet the desired staffing levels.
Twelve of the recruits are being hired as a direct result of the public safety local income tax that went into effect Jan. 1. The department began receiving LIT revenue in February and hired the recruits March 20.
“We waited until March,” VanGorder said. “We made sure the revenues were matching what our revenue analysts had said, and they were.”
Three other firefighters were hired in late 2016 .
“We had not been able to hire an adequate number of firefighters for several years because of the downturn in the economy,” VanGorder said. “Part of the justification and request for the number of firefighters is to build the Zionsville Fire Dept. up to the base minimum standards it takes to be able to respond and meet the standards to have four firefighters on the truck and two on the ambulance.”
All 16 recruits are participating in a 10-week training process, which includes physical agility and opportunities to collaborate with other departments for six unique training lessons.
Upon graduation from training, the recruits will spend a probationary year working shifts for all three stations. After one year, they can request for a permanent move within the department as openings occur.
The recruits will graduate from training May 25 and report for duty June 1.
“I will rest a little easier at night knowing that we are back to providing the safe staffing levels that our firefighters need and our community needs,” VanGorder said.