SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — The Springfield Fire Department is seeing a major drop in the number of applications to become a firefighter.
The department has been accepting applications for over a month. So far, they have 300 applicants.
Usually that number is at least 500.
"Because it is a testing and a vetting process, the bigger the pool, the more qualified individuals we have when we go to hire,” said Chief Allen Reyne, with the Springfield Fire Department.
Officials said qualifications are everything when it comes to being a firefighter.
"We go from doing nothing to full throttle without the benefit of warming up first,” said Reyne.
Firefighters have to meet strict physical and written standards because the last thing a crew needs is someone on the team not up for the task.
"When we go in, we have a lot of heavy equipment. If a guy goes down on the job, you have to have good, strong physical people to be able to go in, fight fire, as well as know how to coordinate, how to get out a downed firefighter if necessary,” said Danual Berkley, with Springfield Fire.
Berkley never thought of fighting fires as a career, but decided to apply anyway.
"I wasn't sure if I would make it or not but seven years later, I got hired and I'm here and it's the best job I've ever had,” he said.
Springfield FD said some of the best people in the department had no clue they wanted to be a firefighter.
However, their compassion and skillset made them qualified.
Now, the department is working to find more potential crew members with the ability to save lives.
If that pool continues to dwindle, there won't be enough firefighters to help when it truly matters.
"The city's going to suffer if we don't have enough firefighters because we won't have enough manpower to get the job done,” said Berkley.
Every type of firefighter has a different background.
The department said they just need good, qualified candidates who want to do a good job and are passionate for the community.
They’re accepting applications until December 19.
To apply, click here.