ANCHORAGE, Alaska — For the first time in four years, the Anchorage Fire Department is looking for new recruits.
According to AFD Deputy Chief Chris Bushue, personnel have decreased by 12 people annually for the past few years. Last year, it shrank by 24.
It was the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that is funding $5 million to the department to increase the number of trained frontline firefighters.
Bushue says that will fill 29 vacant positions and will last two years.
“I would predict that we're going to be able to retain the people that we hire and at the end of two years we'll be in pretty good shape,” said Bushue.
At the AFD training center about 100 aspiring new recruits came in groups of 10 to walk through the next phase of the selection process.
AFD says nearly 40 to 50 percent fail the physical ability test, which consists of finishing challenges at ten stations within a time limit of eight minutes and 27 seconds.
After the physical ability test, applicants will have to pass a behavior aptitude test, an oral test and also an interview with the Chief.
The grant requires positions be filled within 90 days of it being received, so AFD said it's moving quickly to hire.