Pflugerville FD sees record number of applicants after dealing with staff shortage

After dealing with a staffing shortage and a struggle to hire during the pandemic, Travis County ESD #2 is changing their application process.

In doing so, they meant to get more than 340 applicants, which resulted in 50 cadets. 

"It’s the largest applicant pool we’ve ever had, it’s the largest cadet class we’ve ever had, it’s also the most diverse candidate pool we’ve ever had," said Nick Perkins the Travis County ESD #2 fire chief.

Before the recent changes, a fire department like ESD #2 required applicants to already be certified as a firefighter, as well as an EMT. This is typically done on your own time and money. For this recruiting class, the department dropped these requirements all together and are instead including it in their training. This means just about anyone could apply. 

"Because of the opportunity to get paid training, we open the window to these careers. It really accesses it to a group of folks who probably otherwise would’ve never considered this as a career," said chief Perkins. 

For recruit Cordelia Brazziell, dropping the certification requirements was just the push she needed to pursue her dream. 

"That was huge because I was a stay at home mom before, and I didn’t have the money or time to get the certifications. They lifted that and made it a lot easier for me to go through this process, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last five years or so," said Brazziell.

Many other recruits echoed a similar response. 

"I have a wife and two daughters, so it definitely benefited me having some pay going through training," said recruit Salvatore Caputi.

Fire Chief Perkins emphasized that just because they lifted the requirements to apply doesn’t mean the classes themselves are any easier. All the recruits will still be tested on their capability to save lives and stop fires. 

"Every day they regularly are doing strength and conditioning training to get all that necessary strength and power to do that physical ability test which ultimately prepares them to do the job."

This cadet class graduates in July.

Because of the turn-out in applicants, chief Perkins said they are going to continue to drop those certification requirements and instead have them in their classes for future recruits.