Fairfield seeks to hire 9 new firefighters by Jan. 1

City will also replace three firefighters who plan to retire in 2024.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Fairfield Fire Department is expected to have 12 new firefighters by January.

Because of a recently negotiated IAFF union contract, the city agreed to go from a 54-hour work week to a 52-hour week. Fairfield plans to cover those hours by adding nine new firefighters starting on Jan. 1. The additional firefighters will bring the department’s authorized strength to 66.

“This way, the nine new firefighters will allow us to reduce the work week and cover vacation without overtime,” said Fairfield Fire Chief Thomas Lakamp.

This will not impact daily staffing as they would sill have six firefighters and paramedics at each of the three city fire stations.

While the department will make the hires, Fairfield hopes to fund them with a federal staffing grant. City Council on Monday agreed to seek a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant to fund these new positions for three years. This would then extend the life of the city’s 9.25-mill fire levy passed in 2022.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“We have already gotten approval to increase our numbers by nine regardless of the funding mechanism,” said Deputy Chief Steve Conn. “Getting this grant would allow us to stretch our levy monies a lot further.”

The grant would provide $4.2 million in salaries over 36 months. As of Monday, the department had received 106 applications.

In addition to the nine new firefighter positions, Lakamp said there will be three retirements within this year, two in May and one in August.

“We are at full staffing, and we’ll be replacing the three that are retiring and then be hiring nine more in January,” the chief said.

The levy in 2022 allowed the city of Fairfield to transition its fire department from a combination department, which had a mixture of full-time and part-time firefighters, into a professional department due to the lack of firefighters seeking part-time jobs. They converted 36 part-time positions into 18 full-time positions.

About the Author