Anyone hoping to become a Fort Dodge firefighter will now have to get some emergency medical training in order to apply for the job.
Applicants for a firefighter job must be an emergency medical technician (basic) or be studying to earn that certification following a Wednesday morning decision by the city's Civil Service Commission.
''If you're going to be a firefighter, you have to find a way to get through EMT (B),'' said commission member Janece Valentine.
The three-member commission added that requirement at the same time it launched the testing process for hiring new firefighters.
Fire Chief David Luers said two firefighters will soon be retiring and added that there is the possibility of hiring up to three more firefighters if the city gets a federal grant it applied for in the spring.
Luers said filling those vacancies using the current two year-old civil service list will probably be impossible. He said because of retirements, six new firefighters have been hired from that list within the last year.
The chief said three of the people remaining on the civil service list aren't qualified, and added that he hasn't been able to contact the other eight candidates on the list.
In Fort Dodge, the civil service list for firefighters has traditionally been considered valid for three years. The current list was established in March 2010. Luers asked the commission to scrap that list and start a new testing process.
Commission members John Bruner, Stu Cochrane and Valentine voted unanimously to do that. They scheduled an Oct. 19 written test for firefighter candidates, which will be followed by a physical fitness test the following day. During the physical fitness test, the prospective firefighters will wear a weighted vest while doing things like pulling a hoseline, extending ladders and dragging a 140 sandbag to simulate removing someone from a fire.
In a separate unanimous vote, the commission added the EMT (B) requirement for anyone hoping to take those tests. Luers said the requirement is justified because about 70 percent of a firefighter's job today involves providing emergency medical care.
All new firefighters must earn the higher level certification as a paramedic within two years of taking the job.
An EMT (B) provides basic cardiac, medical and trauma care. Luers said the training takes nine months to complete.
Paramedics provide even more treatment before a patient reaches a hospital. They perform advanced airway, medical and trauma procedures; interpret heart rhythms; and administer drugs and IVs. Luers said it takes two years to complete the training.
The Fire Department has 31 members. Six of them are paramedics; the rest are EMTs.