WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem Fire Department is urgently looking to hire more firefighters.
Battalion Chief Darryl Sawyer says they want to make sure they’re prepared in case they face a situation like the Raleigh Fire Department faced on Thursday night when an apartment building still under construction caught fire.
It was the largest fire the city's seen in 100 years.
RFD says the “five-alarm” fire damaged 10 buildings.
Sawyer says each fire department has its own guidelines for classifying fires.
In Winston-Salem, any time there is a a residential fire -- 28 personnel arrive on scene along with five engine companies, two truck companies, two battalion chiefs, a rescue unit, a safety officer, and EMS.
For a second alarm fire, two more engines are called in which gives them eight additional people.
But Sawyer says a “five-alarm” fire usually means one thing for all departments.
“The five alarm fire pretty much means all hands on deck, as many people as we can get to rectify the situation,” said Sawyer. “That's a pretty big fire.”
It took more than 130 Raleigh firefighters to put the fire out on Thursday night.
To put that into perspective, at any given time, Greensboro has 151 firefighters on the clock.
Winston-Salem has 88 but now the city wants to hire more.
"We want to always make sure that we hire according to the population and the needs for our city,” said Sabrina Stowe with the Winston-Salem Fire Department. “We want to have them on staff and ready to go before anything happens."
The Winston-Salem Fire Department says the shortage is due to a lot of firefighters retiring or being promoted recently.
As a result, the department wants to hire at least 20 more firefighters in the next month!
But first, new employees have to undergo at least 6 months of training before they can officially suit up.
So if we face a situation like what happened in Raleigh -- fire officials say they'll have to rely on our neighbors for help.
"In the event that we had a multiple alarm fire, we have mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments in the county,” said Sawyer. “They would backfill stations to respond to other calls while our units are on the scene extinguishing the fire."
175 people have already applied for those open positions.
If you are interested in being firefighter in Winston-Salem, you have until April 9th to apply.
To fill out an application, click here.