GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - The Goose Creek Fire Department will be implementing a new hiring process next year to recruit more Goose Creek locals to be firefighters with the department.
This comes after Goose Creek’s fire chief says they have struggled with retention issues, and they have often seen firefighters leave for other local fire departments or have seen out-of-state firefighters return home.
“I just feel that if we grab local talent, you get the diversity of the local populace around you in your department, and people, if they’re local, they’ll stay local,” Chief Mike Nixon says.
The department’s policy now requires firefighters hired by Goose Creek to already have multiple firefighter and EMS certifications, something Nixon says he believes could be preventing passionate and talented candidates from being hired.
“If you’re working hard and you have a family, you don’t have the opportunity to drop what you’re doing and go to a fire academy on your own and get certified or take six months to get your EMS license,” he says. “If they can come here and get that in house, I just feel like we can turn the tide here locally and get some good local talent here.”
With the current policy, according to Nixon, many firefighters hired by Goose Creek are from other states.
“What we’ll see is people will be on a list back in their home department in New England or some mid-Atlantic states,” he says. “They’ll come here for a period of time because there’s a lot of jobs here in the Lowcountry, and then a job will open up back home and they end up going back home.”
With this new hiring plan in 2022, according to Nixon, instead of hiring only full-trained firefighters who already have multiple certifications, they will be able to hire people without experience and then send them to get the necessary firefighter and EMS certifications.
“Where I come from, you didn’t have to have a bunch of firefighter [certifications] before you got hired,” Nixon says. “I worked with a bunch of people who didn’t [have training] before they got hired and they were some of the best firefighters I worked with. They were dedicated as anybody, and they were able to grow within the job.”
When fully staffed, the Goose Creek Fire Department has about 60 people on staff, according to Nixon. They currently have about 10 positions open.
“For a department that has maximum staff of 60, that’s a lot to be down,” Nixon says.
Robbie Weatherford has been a firefighter with Goose Creek for a year and says he hopes more people will join the team.
“I absolutely love this job, and I genuinely do not see myself doing anything else,” he says. “It’s really cool right now to be a part of growing and be part of a department that’s changing and making your personal stamp on that stuff.”
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