by Mary Lou Morga
ODESSA - The Odessa Fire Department is battling more than just blazes these days. They're also dealing with an employee shorfall.
"We felt that if we created something like this we'd have the opportunity to grab new employees at various times of the year and not traditionally in the summer."
Up until now, the Fire Department had to wait until the classes were over at Odessa College in the summer to recrute new employees.
"Right now, we're very dependent on the programs around the state the Colleges producing these firefighters and once they're gone then our numbers are very limited," Odessa's Asst. Fire Chief Tanner Drake said.
That is why the decided do something the department hasn't seen in the last 15 yrs, a new cadet program.
"They're going to come and work for us and be employed and we're going to put them through a fire school," Drake said.
The students not only get paid to assist classes, but they get certified alot quicker.
"From the time they come to work for us it will be about 3 months before we have full access to them. It's a lot longer process, I wouldn't be able to do it of they didn't have the cadet program," Drake said.
A once in a life time opportunity for people like Casey Belt who've always dreamed of becoming a firefighter.
"It's kinda hard to pass down when they are paying for your school and they're paying to get your EMT, your paramedic, and your fire training certifications without having to go through school," Student Casey Belt, said.