Fire Department Has No Shortage of Job Applicants

by ARLnow.com February 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm 3,103 15 Comments

The Arlington County Fire Department has quite a few positions to fill over the next year. Luckily, it has no shortage of applicants for those positions.

We’re told that about 800 people applied for ACFD’s latest recruitment class. Of those, several hundred are being invited to participate in a physical abilities test.

A recruitment class is expected to start at the training academy in June. Another recruitment class is expected to begin immediately after the first graduates in November. All told, the fire department expects to make 40 new hires this year.

  • Burger

    I hope the applicants can drive down narrow streets.

  • MC

    This is good news — certainly want qualified applicants, and the Fire Department is an essential service.

    I am confused, however, by the large numbers of applicants, given that the Firefighters union claimed they were underpaid and not attracting candidates. They even mobilized to change the form of government, so disappointed they were with the Board’s treatment of them.

    • Anon

      MC — The fact remains that an entry-level Fire Trainee position with ACFD is a fairly stable job with decent benefits and a decent salary in a really crappy economy. Many career fire departments in this area routinely see hundreds, if not thousands, of applications to their recruit school employment processes from people all over the country. I can’t speak to the IAFF Local’s political stance, but if Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes’ recent comment about N. Edgewood St. residents needing the fire department “once in several years,” effectively placing residents’ street “livability” over their inherent safety from a fire or medical emergency, I can only imagine how shortsighted she and other Board members have been when dealing with other Fire Dept. issues…

      • Arl FireFighter

        good point Anon. While the incidents of fire emergencies may be rare in a particular block, there is much more use in terms of EMS emergencies, and an impassible street will delay first responders in that area even further because they show up in a large firetruck as well. It’s a dangerous gamble for some people to own more than 1 car. Anyway good luck to the applicants, hopefully many from the area and not the usual all Pennsylvania bunch.

        • Bluemont John

          ArlFF: I’d be curious to find out why there is often (if not always) a fire truck sent along with an ambulance when someone is ill or injured. I know that firefighters are all EMTs; is the fire truck the only vehicle available for you guys to use if you get a medical call? Thanks for the info.

          • Arl FireFighter

            The suppression unit (primarily Engine, but sometimes Ladder or Rescue company) is automatically dispatched to all ALS (advanced life support) medical emergencies along with the transport unit. ALS calls are the more serious ones, such as chest pains, trouble breathing, stroke, altered mental status, major trauma, or unknown situations. Very often, the “first due” transport unit is out on a call or tied up at the hospital and the closest suppression unit can ensure that capable responders are on scene in under 5 minutes to begin patient care. Many of the suppression units are staffed with at least 1 certified Paramedic, which is another benefit to the patient. The extra hands on scene are also helpful in moving the patient to the transport unit and assisting the Paramedic crew with their job. While they’re not qualified to administer meds or start an IV, they can help the paramedic set up the equipment and clean up the scene. And while we’re sending fire equipment and personnel to assist on EMS runs, it is very rare that there is a shortage of fire coverage in the county. There are 10 fire stations, as well as Ft Myer, National Airport, and mutual aid from Fairfax and Alex. If another major incident occurs, other units are not far away. Hopefully this help clear things up for ya.

        • Tim Hanson

          “Anyway good luck to the applicants, hopefully many from the area and not the usual all Pennsylvania bunch.” care to elaborate “brother”

          • Arl FireFighter

            not meant to be a negative shot at Pennsylvanians. It would be good if we had more applicants and hires from the region.

          • Tim Hanson

            Well then why point out Pennsylvanians at all if it wasn’t a shot ? Last time I checked most of us live out of the area. West Virginia, Maryland, NY and so on….many have moved to the region others of us stay where we are happy or because of family There is no residency requirement which makes the DC Metro region a hot bed for those of us that want to live out our career dream. Sure Arlington might not be the best paying in the region but for the most part we are a strong group of men and women dedicated to serving….It doesnt matter where we come from……Easy to sit behind a keyboard and hide behind a screen name shooting your mouth off on a blog

    • Sean

      Under the County Manager PLAN of government, the County Board is elected at large & an appointed County Manager is, ‘statutorily vested with all administrative & executive powers of the County’.


      What happens is the part-time, at-large Board relies on the appointed County Manager & staff when making legislative decisions for the taxpayers. The County Board is also unable to communicate directly with Department Directors about the state of affairs within any of the Departments without going through the County Manager.

      The County Manager FORM invests the County Manager with administrative powers only & requires County Board Members to be elected by voting district. This would make the elected body more accountable to the voters & prevent a bureaucrat from running the government.

      Those were the reasons the initiative was floated.

    • Box Alarm

      MC, Though many applied only 400 or so passed the written test. Then through the rigorous hiring process which is absolutely necessary to ensure that the applicant is physically fit enough that they can do the job, and that they are of the right mindset to deal with the the very common tragedy that firefighters see and that they are someone you would trust to be in your home when you aren’t there this number will be whittled down to just about the number necessary to fill the classes.
      The promise of a job in the fire service brings many people who feel they have the calling to help people but may not necessarily have the ability to do so in that capacity. Many of them are volunteer firefighters from across the Country who have been trying for years to get on a paid department to do what they love to do and get paid for it. Unfortunately, again, some of these folks do not possess the qualities that Arlington County requires of its firefighters. I understand your confusion and I hope this explanation clears it up a bit.

  • Hank

    Have to echo one of the first comments to this article. Interesting to see the number of people lining up to fill the open positions with the ACFD despite the Union Whiners complaining about the pay rates, benefits, working conditions, etc..

  • Check the Facts

    Most of the time all of these people line up like you stated and go through the process waiting for Fairfax to open up. They quickly realize that a recruit in Fairfax shows up his first day at work and makes the same as an Arlington Firefighter with 4 years on. You do the math…

    • FireMarshalBill

      there’s a lot of truth in that statement. You also have to consider the cost of living, home ownership, raising a family in the suburbs, and that whole ball of wax in Arlington compared to Prince William, Fairfax, and Stafford Counties. Many firefighters seeking that way of life are priced out of the inner Beltway, and coming to Arlington to make less money is another factor. They’re driving farther to work, through some higher paying jurisdictions.

  • Slayingthedragon

    @ Hank: Thousands of people line up to take fire department tests, just like other civil service tests, the promise of a good government job lures them in; most of these people are not qualified or grossly lacking. The testing process is rigorous and weeds out most applicants through a written exam, physical abilities test and psychological testing.


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