Search is on for Port’s second full-time firefighter

City will look outside department for employee needed to ensure around-the-clock paramedic staffing
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Fire Department hopes to have its second full-time employee hired by June 1, Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said Tuesday.

The department is accepting applications for a firefighter-paramedic through March 15, Mitchell said. 

Candidates will take a written test for the position on March 30, with a panel of area fire chiefs interviewing successful applicants on April 18.

A group of about six finalists will then be interviewed by the Police and Fire Commission, which will select the new employee, Mitchell said.

The new employee will also have to pass a police background check.

The commission approved hiring the firefighter-paramedic last year after  Mitchell — who was the department’s first full-time employee — said the position is needed to ensure the city has a paramedic to staff the ambulance around the clock.

The fire and ambulance departments will continue to be primarily staffed by volunteers, Mitchell said, but there is a need to supplement the force with a paid employee.

He told the commission he would like to hire three firefighter-paramedics over the next several years as area fire departments find it more and more difficult to hire the personnel they need.

In filling the position, the city is following a procedure similar to that used to hire police officers, Mitchell said.

Unlike the Grafton Fire Department, which is also hiring a full-time employee this year, Port is seeking candidates from outside the department, Mitchell said. Grafton has been able to hire from within to fill its position.

But, like Grafton, Mitchell hopes to hire another full-time employee next year, saying he would ultimately like to have three full-time firefighter-paramedics on staff to ensure coverage for the ambulance.

“It’s something that keeps us up at night,” he said of the staffing difficulties. “This is the only way to guarantee it (coverage).”

The need for these employees is acute, he told the commission last year.

“What we’re doing now is not a reliable way to do business. I don’t know how long we can hold off,” he said, noting that he’s been relying on two of the department’s paramedics who handle 90% of the calls.

The call volume has increased 70% over the last five years, Mitchell said at the time, noting that in August the department handled 100 ambulance calls and 20 paramedic intercepts — the highest numbers since he’s been in Port.

In Port, a paramedic goes out with an emergency medical technician and a driver every time the ambulance goes out, Mitchell said. If a second call comes in while the first ambulance is out, two EMTs and a driver go out.

When the city first implemented its paramedic program, it was able to staff the ambulance with students who had recently graduated from school and were looking for experience, Mitchell said, but that pool “seems to have dried up.”

The new employee will be paid $45,000 annually and work a 24-hour on, 48-hour off schedule, according to the request for applications.

They will have to move to within 15 miles of Port Washington by the end of their one-year probationary period.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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