Wheeling Fire Department taking applications for firefighter spot

WHEELING — Though the city’s pool of firefighter candidates isn’t as large as it used to be, Fire Chief Larry Helms said the quality is still there.

“The candidates who generally apply are candidates who truly want to be firefighters,” Helms said. “We’ve had a good experience off of that with the last list and I hope that continues.”

Wheeling’s Fire Department is conducting another round of hiring this spring, accepting applications for a probationary firefighter position through April 19.

Helms said his department plans to fill at least nine positions over the next three years due to known upcoming retirements.

“We’re looking for somebody who may have experience interacting with the public, somebody who’s a caring person and likes to help others,” he said. “That’s the type of person who does well in this profession.”

Applicants must be 18 to 35 years old and live within 45 miles of Wheeling within six months after they are hired. The department is now accepting people who live in Ohio and Pennsylvania, not just West Virginia, which is a change from past years.

“We want them to be readily available within a half hour, 45 minute drive,” Helms noted.

If accepted, the applicants will be added to a list of candidates that the Fire Department can pull from in future months.

The application process involves a written test and a Candidate Physical Ability Test, Helms said. The CPAT involves operating a fire truck, carrying 100 feet of hose up a ladder, using a sledgehammer, dragging a mannequin and swimming, among other tasks.

“There are physical requirements to our jobs,” Helms said. “That test is designed to ensure that they can do the types of things that we do as firefighters.”

The test also involves simulating claustrophobic situations and running up six flights of stairs, he said. Applicants will wear firefighter uniforms and equipment during the CPAT.

Those participating in the physical test must complete all the activities within 10 and a half minutes, he said.

The written test will occur May 7 and the agility test is tentatively set for June 1.

“We had some pretty good candidates come off the last list,” Helms said. “We’re trying to get as many candidates as we can.”

The department encourages those with paramedic training to apply and will provide a $5,000 signing bonus for those who have it, he said. Those without training who are hired will be required to become paramedics in the future.

In addition, the department is looking to pull from local church groups and boy and girl scout troops for candidates, Helms said, noting that many candidates were scouts previously.

Applications can be submitted online at wheelingwv.gov/firejobs or through the city’s Human Resources Department, Room 301 of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.