ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Fire Rescue is creating a new program to help bring in new cadets. This comes as the department reports seeing a significant drop in the number of applicants over the past 10 years.

In a press release, AFR states that it has changed the hiring process to increase the number of candidates that now includes a young generation of applicants who will start a 25 to 30-year career. AFR reports that the selection process takes time including several months between selection and the cadet’s start date where the department says it sees applicants abandon the job.

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AFR says this happens when a potential cadet doesn’t have immediate employment offered and they cannot accept due to the financial hardship associated with waiting for months for the job to start. The FSA program will use funding from existing vacancies in order to hire the Fire Service Aide.

“It allows them to start educating themselves in our department,” said Cpt. Fox. “It will allow them to find interests in divisions they want to develop their career towards, start building their education, and help them understand our chain of command,” said Cpt. Fox.

The department says the program will be optional and is not a requirement for the next cadet class. It will allow FSAs to start their career early and have the opportunity to serve in the program ahead of the start of their academy.

AFR reports these individuals will be selected from the current hiring list and will be required to start the cadet program on schedule. During this period, FSAs will focus on a fire service career, fire service training, and will provide non-emergency workload assistance for department field units.

AFR says that FSAs will not be cadets as they are civilian employees managed by the Logistics Division. They will have a Monday through Friday schedule from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be able to be identified by their uniform which includes a red polo shirt.