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Friday, January 27, 2023

Schenectady Fire Department seeks to recruit locally – The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY – In an effort to recruit locally, the Schenectady Fire Department will host an open house information-session on the Saturday before the state civil services exam scheduled for March.

According to assistant chief Don Mareno, the department currently has seven entry-level positions available, with four additional positions expected to open early next year due to retirement.

Mareno said firefighters have been meeting with local college students in recent days, which he hopes will lead to a larger pool of candidates.

“We’re trying to get the word out about the tests in the community and get people interested in getting involved in this line of work,” he said.

Mareno said the department has struggled in recent years finding recruits, an issue that departments across the state have also experienced.

“Thirty years ago when I took the exam, there were 300 people. Recently we had at least 30,” he said.

Seventy-two people took the test the last time it was administered.

The candidate pool becomes even thinner once the exam is administered, with some candidates opting not to pursue a career while others simply do not meet the qualifications.

Mareno said a candidate pool made up of a few dozen applicants could result in only half a dozen viable candidates.

To qualify to become a Schenectady firefighter, applicants must have New York state paramedic certification, have at least 60 college credits, and pass a physical agility test in addition to the civil service exam.

“These are all prerequisites for getting a seat at the table,” Mareno said. “If you are missing any of them…the civil service will not even put your name in the canvas list.”

Starting salaries for entry-level firefighters start at $47,161, plus benefits. A top-step firefighter, a position that can be earned in about seven years, earns a salary of $78,400.

“The pay is very competitive and the benefits are great,” Mareno said.

He said that it is important to recruit at the local level.

Local recruits not only have an understanding of the department, but they also care about the community they will serve.

He said the department provides individuals with all the tools they need to succeed and move forward, but is looking for the right to fill the role.

“The main reason, and I think it will build a successful career, is that you want to be involved in this work. You want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Mareno said. “You are going to interact with people during possibly the worst day of their lives and you have the potential to make a difference. If you are the kind of person who has that calling to do so, I want you here “

Saturday’s Open House will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at the Firefighters Headquarters at 360 Weeder Avenue. The registration for the Civil Services exam is expected to start in January.

Contact correspondent Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected], Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

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