Tucson Fire Department will be fully staffed for the first time in years

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - After years of staffing challenges for firefighters across Tucson, there may finally be some relief.

As we’ve reported, agencies across Southern Arizona have been spread thin, leading to long hours and more pressure on the firefighters.

Like many agencies, Tucson Fire has been working to recruit more firefighters. Their staffing has improved with each recruit class and for the first time in years the agency says it will be fully staffed.

With the graduation of the most recent fire academy and the one now in place, Tucson Fire Chief Chuck Ryan says they’re in a good spot, but they’re already planning ahead.

“What we know is, in the coming years, we’re facing some serious attrition through retirement,” said Chief Ryan. “So, we’re doing some advance planning right now. We’re catching up on past vacancies and trying to stay ahead of the curve”

TFD receives more than 100,000 calls for service every year and despite historic shortages, they’ve served the community.

“It was generating a lot of overtime and its puts a lot of stress on the staff too because they work their regular shift and then they have to work some overtime shifts on top of it,” he explained.

Chief Ryan says this will be the first year TFD will be fully staffed since he started as Fire Chief in 2019. There were several reasons for the shortages, but the pandemic was the biggest one. There was also a significant drop in applications.

He said, “There was a time about seven or eight years ago when Tucson fire was getting between 1,500 and 1,600 applicants, just raw numbers of applicants.

Right now, TFD is recruiting for its next fire academy which begins in January. The application process is open now through April 30. No experience is required, but you must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, a valid drivers license, and be able to pass a physical ability test.

″Kind of get educated on what you’re going to get into because, you know, the TV shows show a lot of glamor, right? It’s not like that all the time, but it is a deeply, deeply rewarding profession,” Chief Ryan advised.

On Tuesday, Tucson Fire held an open house at 6:30 p.m.. The department will hold another open house April 4. Interested candidates will be able to ask questions about what it takes to pass the academy and become a firefighter for TFD.

You can find more details about recruitment here.