Des Moines working to address firefighter shortage

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines Fire Department has 13 vacancies across all of its stations.

This is due to a delay in the training academy, where a group of 17 new firefighters was expected to be in stations by this past January. 

However, the fire department pushed the physical element of training back by a year. Now, that same group won’t begin to work until this December.

By that time the fire department is expected to have another 21 vacancies to fill. 

Des Moines will start another hiring process next January. This process includes a basic written test, a Civil Service Commission exam, a physical assessment, EMT training, and paramedic certification. This can take up to a year to complete.  

To bring more firefighters on board, the Des Moines Fire Department is currently working with the city to create an interim hiring cycle next year with certified paramedics to speed up the process.

“If they’re not paramedics, they have to go through paramedic school, which is another six months,” Captain Chris Bolton said. “So if they’re already a paramedic, when they’re done with the firefighter training, they’ll move on to stations.” 

Despite having these staffing challenges, Captain Bolton said DMFD always has enough firefighters to cover every shift and residents shouldn’t feel a change in service. 

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