FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- If you've ever dreamed of being a firefighter but have a background in something completely different, the Fort Wayne Fire Department wants to hear from you.
"Anyone should and can apply, absolutely," District Chief Jermaine Thomas said.
Thomas says about 430 people used to apply for each fire academy class, but says the past two years, that number has fallen below 400 for 18 available spots.
To help boost recruiting, you'll soon see signs around town and in targeted locations.
"One thing we're going to do is putting a lot of fitness centers. We talk about people being team oriented, well actually you want to be physically fit to be a firefighter, as well, so a lot of fitness centers have said we can put signs out there," he said.
However, he says as long as you're highly motivated, it doesn't matter what your background is.
"You want to be more diverse and sometimes people correlate that with race, but sometimes it's also background. It could be someone who's an accountant, someone who can be a mechanic, someone who's been athletic, someone who's just now starting to work out. A lot of the training you get in the academy, so I don't want anyone to think that they can't do it," Thomas said.
Firefighters will also hold four Q&A sessions at the YMCA, where people can get answers to questions like what the academy training and fire house living and working conditions are really like.
Thomas says that was a successful recruiting tool used for the first time with the current academy class.
"Probably 80% of the people that showed up for the Q&A sessions applied for the fire department, so that was very helpful. There's a couple of them in the academy right now that showed up for the Q&A sessions, so that's been positive so far, so we want to do it again," he said.
If you're between the ages of 21 and 35, applications are being accepted now through September 8 for the fire academy class that begins in April and will graduate next September.