Civil Service sets firefighter test

Published 11:06 am Thursday, September 24, 2015

Officials with the Vicksburg Fire Department hope a new call for applicants will provide a large enough pool of candidates to fill 16 current openings in the department and help reduce overtime.

The Vicksburg Civil Service Commission Wednesday set the test dates for the department’s entry level firefighter position, clearing the way for the department to recruit and take applications from city residents for the position.

People interested in applying for the position can pick up application packets at the city’s human resources department at the City Hall Annex on Walnut Street beginning Monday through Oct. 21, human resources director Walterine Langford said. Eighteen-year-olds will be able to apply for the job.

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The exam is broken into two sections: the agility test will be 8 a.m. Oct. 23 at Vicksburg Memorial Stadium, while the written exam is 9 a.m. Oct. 30 at the fire department’s training facility, 100 Old Mill Road. Applicants must also be able to pass a background check and a physical examination.

“I’m hoping we can get 16 out of this call,” Fire Chief Charles Atkins said. “Four or five of those positions will be for paramedics.”

Atkins said 20 people previously applied for the position, but that number was whittled down to three during the application process.

“I’m hoping we’ll do better,” he said.

The manpower shortage in the department is the reason Atkins said the department has had to pay unscheduled overtime to off-duty firefighters who are called in to fill slots on undermanned shifts at the city’s fire stations.

Managing the unscheduled overtime has been a major source of disagreement between Atkins, and Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who has been critical of the way the fire chief runs the department.

As of Sept. 12, fire department overtime totaled $783,212.40 for a combined 44,578 hours of overtime. Of that total, 22,872 of the overtime were for unscheduled overtime. City Accounting director Doug Whittington Sept. 15 estimated the department’s personnel budget for salaries and benefits was more than $250,000 in the red, forcing a budget amendment to straighten it out.

Monday, the board voted 2-1 to close Fire Station No. 7 from Feb. 1 to Sept. 30 each year as a way to reduce overtime by reassigning the shifts there to other stations. North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield opposed the closing.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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