'Going to be phenomenal’: Roanoke Fire-EMS well-staffed after years of hiring struggles

Like many across the country, the department has faced staffing issues

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke Fire-EMS has been implementing new, creative strategies to help with recruitment challenges for years and now they’re finally paying off.

The department, like many across the country, has been plagued with staffing issues in recent years.

“Sometimes it’s been minus 10 coming out of recruit school, so it’s been really hard. We’ve been as far down as minus 25,” said David Hoback, Roanoke Fire-EMS Chief.

Hiring challenges have led to lots of overtime and overworked staff, but now Hoback said it's finally leveling out.

"Going into this year, we're only minus 2 of being full staffed. That has never happened in the last 3 or 4 years," Hoback said.

It's been a game of catch-up, blamed on a changing workforce and lots of retirements. That forced the department to streamline the recruitment process, speed up training for people with certain certifications and double the number of recruit schools just to get by. Now it’s able to scale back to one recruit school a year, in what Hoback calls a normal hiring process.

"I think that's going to be phenomenal for us but again, we do have some pending retirements coming up in January so that's a moving target," Hoback said.

The next recruit class starts in February. You can apply for the following class now, but that training is not expected to start until 2021.

Click here to learn more about applying to work for Roanoke Fire-EMS.

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