Meridian, Miss. Testing has started to hire more firefighters in Meridian. The physical exam was held today. In all, more than 50 people picked up applications. However, 34 showed up Wednesday morning.
Most we talked to say they are pursuing this career because it's something they love.
'It's a family thing that I've done since I was a kid," said Anthony Johnson of Newton.
"I really enjoy the rescue side. I was in nursing school, and the hospital side I didn't like so much," said David Dearman of Meridian.
"Right now we're probably going to hire 20," said Chief Anthony Clayton, "but I'm not going to say when we're going to actually put that into play because there's a lot of other stuff that goes into it."
In the past the Meridian Fire Department has sponsored up to four testing sessions in one year's time. However, due to delays within the Civil Service Commission for the City of Meridian, this is likely the only testing session for this year.
Chief Clayton says he's currently working with city officials in an effort to also help retain the firefighters that the department already has by boosting their salaries to the regional level.
"The ones that are here that we've invested our time and our money in, those are the ones who are leaving us," said Clayton.
However, with the city recently implementing a starting salary increase for firefighters to $9 an hour, the chief says he has high hopes for the future.
"I'm optimistic. I see the glass half way full. I believe we're going to start recruiting more, and retaining more people."
It would take 122 people to fully staff the Meridian Fire Department. Currently it has 95 firefighters. Meanwhile, over the next two days candidates for open positions within the department will take a written and oral exam.