Troup County Fire Department wants 10 new part-time firefighters

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, October 1, 2019

By Alicia B. Hill

LAGRANGE — On Tuesday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners considered a request to open 10 new part-time firefighter positions.

According to Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis, the new firefighters would improve fire department coverage in the county. More employees would likely translate into a higher Insurance Securities Office (ISO) rating, which calculates how well-equipped fire departments are to put out fires in the community. The score is also often used by insurance companies to determine home insurance rates.

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“Our personnel was very slack on ISO,” Ekaitis said. “We scored 3.15 points out of 15. This will give us additional points on ISO. Having two people on duty versus having one person on duty.”

Ekaitis said the new hires would increase the county fire department staff working at any given time from 17 employees to 18 employees.

The county also uses volunteer firefighters, but three volunteers count as one career firefighter for evaluation purposes.

Commissioner Richard English asked if there would be adequate interest in part-time positions instead of full-time.

Ekaitis said that he had already spoken to several local firefighters who said they would be interested in part-time positions with the county.

Ekaitis said the part-time employees would also help create a larger internal candidate pool for full time positions.

“We believe that it could serve to test-drive an employee before they might move into full time status,” County Manager Eric Mosley said. “We’ve struggled in the past with having a large number of applicants for our full-time spots, and so we are hoping that maybe we might have a part-time person come in, get really excited about firefighting and want to join us full time when a position becomes available.”

According to information shared during the meeting, about 20 full-time firefighter positions are expected to come open because of employee retirements during the next five years.

Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead asked if it would be possible for Troup County to partner with THINC College and Career Academy to help prepare students for jobs as firemen and emergency medical technicians.

Ekaitis said a fire department employee already assists with some training at the school.

Additionally, THINC CEO Gerald Wyatt said some students at THINC have expressed interest in careers that would be available through the fire department.

“One of the branches of the nursing program is EMT and EMS work, so yes, he does facilitate a class for us in that regard,” Wyatt said. “There are several young people that are in the nursing program simply because it is medical but have a big interest in EMT, EMS.”

The Troup County Board of Commissioners plan to vote on the request during its next regular meeting at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave in LaGrange.