Stevens Point welcomes three new firefighters
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The Stevens Point Fire Department celebrated the addition of three new members Friday with the graduation of their second academy class this year.
Like many fire departments, they’ve had trouble keeping a full house since the pandemic but they’re not slowing down. They’re already recruiting for the next group, which should start academy training in August.
“Currently we have a Division Chiefs opening, and three battalion chiefs, and we have four to six firefighter positions currently open,” said Stevens Point Fire Chief Jb Moody.
Moody says limitations during COVID-19 and work-at-home models are part of what hurts their recruitment efforts.
“Being at work and having to work 24-hour shifts becomes difficult for some people,” Moody said.
He’s happy to see this new group join the department and help fill the need.
“I’m looking forward to see them all on shift. They’ve done a great job over the last few weeks.”
Graduate Austin Lewandowski wanted to be an accountant since high school but a stint volunteering for his local fire department changed all that.
“I walked in, absolutely enjoyed it, knew this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. So I finished my degree, but I switched career paths and went for that,” Lewandowski said.
After getting their firefighter-one certification and five successful weeks at firefighter academy, the three are ready to get on the job.
“They’ll spend two swings learning the ins and outs of every day life here at the firehouse, and then after those two swings they’ll count as minimum manning for the three crews that they’ll be assigned to,” Moody said.
Lewandowski encourages others to follow his lead.
“If you love doing it, helping others, helping your community, go for it,” he said.
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