Whether it's the coolness of being a firefighter or the higher-than-average unemployment rate in Travis County, the Austin Fire Department is being deluged with applications as it seeks to hire a record number of firefighters.
The AFD launched a recruitment campaign on Wednesday, seeking to fill more than 100 vacancies. As of Friday afternoon, they had received more than 1,400 resumes.
"The volume is a challenge for us," AFD assistant director Amy Singer told KUT News. "We had 3,800 applications in 2008 when we did this process. So yeah, it's a very popular job, and Austin is well known for having a great department and we have a good pay scale."
"We have a candidate physical ability test that is one of the hurdles that an applicant has to meet," she said. "For example, it does require some upper body strength."
Singer says AFD has a complete orientation guide to the test along with advice on how to train for it on their website. And it doesn't sound easy.
In these events, the candidate wears a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighter protective clothing. An additional 25 pounds, using two 12.5-pound weights that simulate a high-rise pack (hose bundle), is added to the shoulders for the stair climb event.
Throughout all events, the participant must wear long pants, a hard hat with chin strap, work gloves and footwear with no open heel or toe. Watches and loose or restrictive jewelry are not permitted.
The application period continues until December 12.