Recruiting efforts going well for fire department

Efforts to beef up the Oxford Fire Department’s paid-on-call staff are going extremely well, according to Sgt. Kelly Kilgore.

Since assuming his new position as the department’s recruitment and retention program manager on Oct. 31 last year, Kilgore has brought in nine new recruits.

“I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect to have nine of them, that’s for sure,” he said. “I expected it was going to be slow (at first) while I got my feet wet and figured out how to do things.”

Kilgore is already more than halfway there when it comes to meeting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) contract requirement of recruiting 16 new members over a four-year period.

His position is being primarily funded by a $333,706 grant from FEMA.

Kilgore’s recruitment efforts have consisted of placing flyers on community bulletin boards, conducting an open house and chatting with folks whenever and wherever he can.

“Any time I’m out in the community – even when I’m not in uniform – I talk to people and try to get them to understand that anybody can do this (job),” he said. “Most people don’t think they can do it. Either their age is an issue or their schedule is an issue.”

But once Kilgore explains to them that age doesn’t matter as long as they can physically do the job and flexible scheduling is available, they realize “maybe I can do this.”

Kilgore, who joined the department in 2005 at the age of 38, said being a paid-on-call firefighter and/or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) really is “the ultimate community service job.”

Paid-on-call personnel get the privilege of helping people during what is quite often “the worst time of their lives,” he said.

They also get the chance to work with “state-of-the-art equipment,” such as the new drone the department was recently authorized to purchase.

“We’re very fortunate and blessed here in Oxford to have what we have,” Kilgore said.

Even though Oxford does have a group of full-time firefighters, it still relies heavily on paid-on-call personnel to ensure there’s always adequate manpower at the scene, whether it’s a structure fire, medical emergency or car crash.

“It’s very critical we get people in here to help the full-time staff,” Kilgore said.

To become either a paid-on-call firefighter/EMT or paid-on-call EMT, applicants must be at least 18 years old, a high school graduate (or hold a GED), have a good driving record, have no criminal history and live in Oxford, either the township or village. Applicants must also successfully complete a physical agility test.

After that, they must attend a fire academy and/or EMT academy. The fire academy runs from January to June and the EMT academy from August to December. Students attend sessions on two weekday evenings (Monday and Thursday), plus one to two Saturdays per month. Academy training is paid for by the fire department.

Following graduation, there’s a probationary period where new recruits learn things specific to working for the Oxford Fire Department. How long this period lasts depends entirely on how quickly a recruit learns the ropes. New recruits have up to two years to complete their probation.

Paid-on-call members are expected to work a minimum of 18 hours (including training) per month, plus sign up for three squad shifts per month, for which they must be available to respond to calls from 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Paid-on-call pay rates range from $10.23 to $19.18 per hour.

To learn more, please call the Oxford Fire Department at (248) 969-9483 or visit www.oxfordfiredept.com.

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