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Lexington Fire Department seeks job applicants

The Lexington fire department is encouraging anyone interested in becoming a firefighter to submit an application through the city's Web site before May 16.

The department began advertising several open positions this month.

While the Urban County Council has not approved funding for a new firefighter recruit class, the time it takes to test applicants means the department has to advertise the positions months ahead of time, Battalion Chief George Wolffbrandt said Monday.

Mayor Jim Newberry's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal grants funding to a new firefighter class and a police recruit class, city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.

The budget will be finalized June 24, and the Urban County Council could amend it before then, she said.

Wolffbrandt said the department is about 20 people short of the 545 firefighters in the city's budget. He said maintaining a full staff is more cost-effective than layoffs or eliminating open positions because it lowers the amount of overtime paid to firefighters.

Starting firefighters in Lexington make about $36,500 a year plus several thousand dollars in incentives, Wolffbrandt said.

Anyone in the community who meets certain requirements is encouraged to apply. Applicants must be 21 to 33 years old and U.S. citizens, and have a high-school diploma or GED and a driver's license.

All new hires must pass criminal background checks.

Wolffbrandt said the department is hoping to draw in more women and minorities in this round of hiring.

The fire department has begun a hiring campaign with posters featuring black and female firefighters.

"We're trying to touch a very diverse group of people, not necessarily people that have spent their whole lives wanting to be a fireman," he said.

Applications are available at www.lexingtonky.gov/lexfire.

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