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Flint hiring 33 new firemen to fill void left by retirements

According to Eric Lupher, cities, towns and villages pooling resources could help make services more affordable.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
A federal SAFER grant will fund 33 new Flint firefighter positions for the next two years.

The city of Flint is hiring nearly three dozen new firemen.

A $3.7 million federal grant is paying to replenish a department that has seen more than 30 retirements and other departures in the past few years.

“Our firefighters have been doing an outstanding job with … so few firefighters on duty,” says Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton, “Just imagine what they can do if you almost double [the number responding to calls].”

Flint officials hope to fill the new firefighter jobs with city residents over the next six months.

City officials hope to fill most, if not all, of the positions with Flint residents. That means training dozens of new recruits.

Jeremy Gilbert is the head of Flint’s firefighter union. He admits the training will be yet another task for a department already stretched thin, but he’s glad to do it.

“It will allow us to get to fires quicker.  It will allow us to have more manpower on scene to do all the work,” says Gilbert. 

The new firefighters are needed for another reason too.  

As many as 10 current Flint firemen are expected to retire from the department in just the next few years.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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