WOONSOCKET â€” Fire Chief Gary Lataille says heâ€™s not looking to hire new firefighters, but is merely doing something he does every two years â€“ conduct an open application process for eligible firefighters to be included on a new certified hiring list that goes into effect June 7.
â€śThe Woonsocket Fire Department is not hiring,â€ť says Lataille, who has been fielding calls from people apparently confused about the open application process. â€śThis is something we do every two years.â€ť
â€śIf I were hiring, I already have a list in place, but that list expires in June, so now weâ€™re in the process of developing a new list,â€ť Lataille explained.
The departmentâ€™s current hiring list of eligible firefighters certified by the city Personnel Board two years ago expires on Friday, June 7. In order to come up with a new list for certification, every two years the department establishes a three-week period in which to accept new applications.
This year, the open application period began on April 1 and ends Friday.
After the application period ends Friday, applicants will take a written test, scheduled to be held on Saturday, May 18. To take the written test, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be a high school graduate and possess a valid driverâ€™s license.
Applicants who score 70 percent or higher on the written test then undergo an oral interview test.
Lataille says the hiring of any new firefighters would have to go before the Woonsocket Budget Commission, which was established by the Director of Revenue in May 2012 to initiate and assure the implementation of appropriate measures to secure the financial stability of the city.
Last year, the Woonsocket Fire Department received a $299,250 U.S. Department of Homeland Assistance to Firefighters Grant to train firefighters and paramedics to more effectively respond to emergency situations.
The AFG program awards grants through the DHSâ€™s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel.
In February, the neighboring Pawtucket received a $4.2 million federal grant to help that cityâ€™s fire department hire additional firefighters to meet its staffing needs. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will help the save jobs and hire firefighters to restore its force size to 146 members to better serve Pawtucketâ€™s 71,000 residents.
Over the last three years, several firefighter positions in Pawtucket have been vacated and budget constraints have prevented them from being filled. The grant will cover the cost of all pay and benefits for the new positions over the next two years.