KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Staffing shortages have impacted companies across the country and the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department is not immune to those challenges.

It’s currently in the hiring process but aren’t’ seeing great numbers. Meantime, public safety is top of mind.

KCFD is down more than a hundred people and recruitment numbers are low. The department is doing what it can do to combat the issue, but the chief says it’s a concern.

“Obviously, we want to hire and have as many first responders available to run calls and respond to emergencies,” Chief Donna Lake said.

Lake said they currently need to fill 125 positions. The department is slated to staff about 1,350 members, the majority are firefighters.

“We want to make sure we’ve got all the crews out in the field,” Lake said. “We want to make sure that our employees health and wellness is taken care of and so I think that’s an opportunity when we’re fully staff that people have that time off.”

Lake said the hiring process has changed. Testing comes first, every person starts by taking an entrance exam, which they can do at home.

Physical fitness is next.

Applicants also have to be 18-30 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.

Beyond that, Lake said they’re just looking for good people, interested in giving back to the community.

“It’s family, it truly is,” Ryan Atty said. “You form relationships that you can’t form anywhere else. The comradery is amazing.”

Atty grew up in Kansas City with several firefighters as role models.

After serving six years in the Kansas Army National Guard, he became a firefighter and EMT.

Atty has been with KCFD for four years and is very close to becoming a paramedic — education the department has paid for.

“I got to come back with people who are like minded and very similar to veterans,” Atty said.

Lake said another important piece of recruitment is increasing diversity within the department to reflect the community they work in.

“It’s important for young women to see people that look like me that are doing this job,” Lake said. “:t’s important for young men to see people that look like them, whether they’re Hispanic, African American, or white. So, I think for us it’s, how do we bring that whole community into the fire department.”

The hiring process is open until November 28.

If you would like to become a Kansas City firefighter, click here.

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