VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) – The Vandalia Fire Department says they’re finally getting what they need… more workers.
In mid-2015, the Vandalia Fire Department lost a career fire fighter to retirement since then they’ve been searching for a replacement. It’s been a long process, but now six months later they say they’ve finally found who they’ve been looking for.
“Fire fighter John Stevens started this week. We’re glad to have him. We’re half-way back to a full staff of career personnel,” Vandalia Fire Chief Chad Follick. “We’re excited to have him. It’s been a long process.”
Follick says the new hire will mean less stress on the department, but it won’t quite bring them up to full staffing levels. Right now, the department relies heavily on part-time workers, but that’s causing problems.
“The pool of part-time personnel in the region is starting to get pulled in one hundred different directions and the pool is starting to thin out a little bit,” Follick said. “We starting to struggle to get part-time applicants.”
And finding workers isn’t the only challenge. Follick says the limit on the number of hours they can work also causes problems.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, we were able to work part-time employees many more hours,” Follick said. “Now, they are limited to about 28 hours a week. We’re hiring part-time guys now that are working 3 and 4 different fire departments trying to make-up for hours they’ve lost because of the Affordable Care Act.”
Along with new firefighter John Stevens, Follick says they also plan to fill some new positions.
“We are looking at a third full-time fire captain, which is we call him a shift commander,” Follick said. “That’s something we never had before. It’s a new position that city council approved in our 2016 budget.”
The swearing in ceremony for the new full-time fire fighter John Stevens is tomorrow at 2pm in the Vandalia City Council Chambers.