WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — As COVID-19 rages on across the country and at home in Wichita Falls, 911 calls and emergencies can’t be canceled or postponed.
The Wichita Falls Fire Department has adapted precautions due to the coronvirus and now they’re looking for new recruits.
Applications are being accepted and there are six openings, but WFFD Fire Chief Ken Prillaman said that number will likely grow.
Fires still have to be fought and emergency calls don’t take a back seat to COVID-19.
“I think the universal precautions that we’ve had for years and years helped us transition, it really was just a slight modification, very different than say the rest of the world,” Prillaman said.
With six spots open on the department and possibly more soon, Prillaman said that’s typical heading into fire academy time.
“We don’t want to get too far down in terms of openings because there’s a financial implication for covering for those open spots and if you run much smaller than that then it’s an expensive academy,” Prillaman said.
It’s the 68th Wichita Falls Fire Academy and the second since returning in-house versus holding the training at Vernon College.
“We feel like that if they’re around us every day, it prepares them better to come in this fire station after the five-month training program, if they see these trucks and see the firefighters and the officers working around them every day,” WFFD Safety and Training Chief Jason Baber said. “I think it gives them a better grasp on what to expect when they enter the station.”
Prillaman wants his department to break barriers and build a more diverse team.
“We want to be a fire department that is representative of the community that we serve,” Prillaman said. “We don’t have as many young girls and we don’t have people of color that seemed to be as interested in being a firefighter and we’d really love to change that, we are a diverse community, we live in a diverse country.”
Baber adds training goes beyond firefighting.
“In the grand scheme of this, we’re all public servants so we teach them how to work as a team, how to work under a command structure,” Baber said.
Teamwork tops the training list as WFFD blazes a new trail.
The process begins with 192 classroom hours for EMT, followed by 96 clinical hours with AMR and working with United Regional Health Care System.
Once one is EMT basic certified, they move on to fire portion of the class to become a Texas Commission Fire Protection Certified Firefighter
Applications are due Aug. 14.
Practice materials for the written exam can be found here.
As for the Wichita Falls Police Department, another academy is not planned until next year.