Economy Extinguishing Fire Fighting Vacancies
Marion County is laying off 67 county employees. Another 36 won't be filled in an effort to balance the budget.
Marion County Fire Rescue is laying off a deputy chief and three mechanics who repair fire engines and ambulances.
Marion County Fire Rescue will also eliminate six vacant firefighter positions.
The number of the fire department's employees has diminished over the past recent years. From 664 in 2009, 612 in 2010, to 592 in 2011- not including the cuts made last Friday.
Chief Barry Baker, Superintendent at Florida state fire college in Ocala says the dwindling numbers are part of a growing trend.
"We are loosing jobs in the fire service as well," Baker said. "The economy is affecting departments across the states."
For example, the Chief Baker said the fire college graduated about 2,700 new firefighters last year- of which three or four hundred found jobs.
"Recently I know Gainesville had several openings, two or three positions, and I think they got 800 applicants," he said.
After losing six vacant firefighter positions, Marion County Fire Rescue's Chief McElhaney is unsure whether his department will be able to welcome new firefighters in the near future.
"Will there be additional open positions through time, I really can't say at this point," McElhaney said.
Leaving local cadets hoping the economy won't extinguish their chances of getting hired.
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