HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Fire Department is hoping to add additional firefighters with the start of a new academy.
"We got seven new recruits, it's going to be a six week academy, and after they get through the academy are going to put them on shift work," said Hattiesburg Fire Chief Paul Presley.
Currently the department has 90 sworn officers and the department is allotted for 120.
"We got a lot of guys working a lot of overtime, and that should help a little bit, until we start the next academy," said Presley.
According to Presley the six week academy includes a variety of training opportunities for the new recruits.
"There is going to be fighting fire, some of the basic stuff like hazmat techs, EMR training and getting certified for that and rope rescue, going through a week of smoke week, and getting them just used to being in the heavy turnout gear and fighting fire and just getting them ready to go out and do their job," said Presley.
One of the biggest concerns of department officials is firefighters being injured, and shifts where guys are shorthanded are the main concerns.
"Guys get injured when you don't have enough people, we got guys working a lot of overtime, and we know guys are tired so what I do is I allow two shifts in a row to work overtime, then we let them go home," said Presley.
When the new recruits complete the local academy, they will head off to the State Fire Academy in Jackson for another six weeks of training.
Not only is Presley hopeful the new recruits will help the department, but he encourages anyone interested in joining the department to stop by and check it out.
"We have been visiting a lot of schools in the area, as well as reaching out to anyone that may be interested in joining our department," said Presley.
If anyone has any questions regarding recruitment or joining the department, contact the Hattiesburg Fire Department at 601-545-6678.