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Recruits join Cincinnati Fire Department amid high retirement rate

Posted at 4:39 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 19:59:11-04

CINCINNATI -- Fire stations across Ohio are grappling with high levels of retirement.

In Cincinnati, fire department officials said it's costing them in overtime. Other departments around the Tri-State have been affected as well.

Cincinnati welcomed its newest round of recruits on Friday. They'll welcome another round in February. Michael Washington, the chief of training for CFD, has the difficult job of preparing the department's new fire recruits.

"This new fresh blood will definitely increase our ability to meet the goals of the citizens," he said.

The recruits are coming at a vital time. High retirement rates mean the department has been covering shifts with overtime pay.

"Our overtime is directly related to out numbers," Fire Chief Roy Winston said.

It stems from hiring practices in the 1980s and '90s, according to Winston. They hired a lot of recruits at the same time, and now those recruits are retiring at the same time.

"Our classes were larger in the '80s as well as the '90s, and now when it comes to retirement, we're seeing those same rates of retirement as well," he said.

As Cincinnati strains to fill in these open positions, surrounding departments say they're taking a hit.

Little Miami Fire Chief James Puthoff said Cincinnati is attracting many of their part-time firefighters, causing a shortage for smaller departments.

But for Washington, his role is still clear: making sure all the new recruits walk out the door prepared.

"The regimen of training is just very, very, very important," he said.