Richmond County schools teaming up with fire department to streamline hiring process

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
News 12 at 11 o'clock

RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Students in Richmond County now have the option of a streamlined hiring process for the Augusta Fire Department right out of high school.

"The fire department is the best kept secret," said Chief Christopher James.

The Augusta Fire Department is teaming up with Richmond County schools to get that secret out to students. Starting this year, seniors can choose to take a written exam, their first step to becoming a firefighter.

"It's an idea that we could actively recruit high school seniors to serve their community right here at home," said Chief James.

The idea is to rearrange the hiring process. Right now, you need a diploma or GED to apply. Then, you take a written exam and a physical agility test. Under the new program, students can take the written exam and agility test while in school, then apply when they graduate.

"With this rearrangement, we get to focus on the students that have the best possibility of making it through the process and getting on the department," said Chief James.

"I just think it's a win-win for everyone involved," said Jimmy Atkins, board president. "Great starting salary, great opportunity for advancement, great opportunity for retirement."

With thousands of seniors eligible for the test next month, Atkins and Chief James said students are already buzzing about the new opportunity.

"The students that I've interacted with have been very excited about this opportunity," Atkins said. "Some of them never would've thought of this as a career path if the school system had not gotten involved with the fire department."

The fire department said a successful first year is simply getting some students interested. Once the first class comes through, they'll send them back to the schools next year to share their stories and encourage others to follow suit.

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