SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Firefighters, police officers, EMS and other first responders come to you in an emergency.
Now, it’s many of those agencies that are looking for help.
More than a half dozen local and state agencies gathered in Spartanburg in mid-April for a First Responder Job Fair.
“It’s demanding hours. It’s a demanding job,” Sgt. Tony Soddu, recruitment officer for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, said. “You have to have a great sense of personal responsibility. And a great character and a great demeanor and you’re talking about a person of high integrity. That’s not easy to find.”
The Spartanburg Fire Department was looking to hire people, either professional firefighters or trainee candidates because that’s just about their only source.
“There aren’t many volunteers left. In Spartanburg County, we’re seeing almost exclusively paid firefighters,” according to Spartanburg Fire Department Assistant Chief Brad Hall. “Even some of the most rural departments are getting some paid staff now. There are still volunteers out there, but the days of having lots of volunteers applying to be firefighters for career jobs is very slim.”
Hall said his department still has plenty to offer a candidate.
“People that like to work with their hands. People who like a 24-48 schedule. That’s working one day and off two days. We want people who are devoted to their communities and show up and do their job. We can train them to be a firefighter, but we’re looking for quality people first and then we can train them to be firefighters.”
Master Trooper Gary Miller can offer something most others can’t and that’s a chance to work across South Carolina with the Highway Patrol.
“If you want to make a difference in your community, helping keep people safe. If you want to basically add calm to an area where chaos is happening,” Miller told 7NEWS, “because as a state trooper, that’s what we do.”
Every agency we talked to on that morning in April came back to one point: finding people who fit the right jobs.
“It’s kind of like going to the doctor. You don’t go to the dentist to get your eyes checked,” Miller said. “So, depending on what you’re looking for and what you actually want to do and the work environment, that will dictate a lot about where you end up in law enforcement.”
Soddu agrees. “Sometimes we see people get in and they’re not really sure what they’re getting into and it’s not a good fit. I think that’s where a lot of departments are really hurting is trying to find those people because they’re out there. But finding them, that’s the job.”