Rural Phelps County is about to become a safer place to live and work if you reside in the Rolla Rural Fire Protection District (RRFPD). That’s because the District is getting nine new full-time firefighters.

Rural Phelps County is about to become a safer place to live and work if you reside in the Rolla Rural Fire Protection District (RRFPD). That’s because the District is getting nine new full-time firefighters.

The residents in the Fire Protection District voted to increase a property tax levy to strengthen rural fire protection in April 2016. At that time, voters were promised by the district fire board to move from a staff of solely volunteer firefighters to hiring nine full-time firefighter positions, with a group of professional volunteers rounding out the department. The time has come, according to RRFPD Chief Roger Hayes. The hiring process is in place, and as of yesterday, the department is ready to receive applications.
“At the board meeting last week, we got the approval from the board to go ahead with the hiring process,” said the Chief.

Chief Hayes said the selection process will involve a written exam, one that has been designed by a third party that works with firefighter selection and retention. He said a lot of the material in the test involves fire fighter certification knowledge from certification programs implemented by the Division of Fire Safety.

“There is a requirement for these positions that applicants have both Fire Fighter I and II State Certifications,” he explained. “The state of Missouri acknowledges IFSAC (International Fire Service Accreditation Congress) and Pro Board certifications, which will be accepted as well. Also, if you have [Firefighter] certifications I and II, you must also have hazardous materials awareness and operations certifications.

Certifications show a fire fighter has book knowledge of the basics of fire fighting, hose types, construction, fire behavior, etc.
“To pass the written test, they have to score 70 percent minimum to pass—a general number used by the state of Missouri,” said the Chief. “If they pass that portion, they will then move on to the physical agilities test. It’s a timed event covering some of the basic physical activities that a fire fighter should possess.”

Chief Hayes said if applicants pass this, they move on to an oral interview board. He mentioned most of the volunteers already have a lot of the certifications—just standard practice to get his team knowledgable about fire safety. Out of a volunteer group of 37 firefighters, he believes five or six may apply for a full-time position with the Fire District.

Nine new firefighters will allow the Chief to have three shifts of three firefighters on duty 24 hours with 48 hours off. This is the schedule Chief Hayes would like to try first.
“Just getting off the ground and having another local department that uses the 24/48 hour shifts, it’s just easier to try [something that’s working] (as opposed to 48 hours on and 96 hours off),” he explained.

Chief Hayes has been working since January 1 of this year to get to the stage where he will have a full-time/professional volunteer-based firehouse.
“Right now, [the volunteers] have to drive to the station, get in their truck and respond to a call which delays our response time,” he said. “With the full-time firefighters, they’re going to live here and in theory, they should be out the door in a minutes time, which will decrease the response time to calls, which helps everybody (the home or landowner as well as the firefighters).”

He said the Department appreciates the support of the people in the District for passing the tax, which will allow them to provide a better service.
“It’s going to be tremendous for the District and the community.”
For those interested in applying for the full-time firefighter position, the components of the application can be obtained on the District’s website at www.rollaruralfire.com or an application can be picked up at Station 1, 1575 E. Lions Club Drive in Rolla. Applications need to be received or postmarked by October 3.