AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Could a unique partnership between students and a fire department boost retention and recruiting efforts? The new training officer for the Augusta fire department thinks so.
Edward Hawthorne returns to C-S-R-A as the New Chief Training Officer for the Augusta Fire Department. He brings more than 20 years of experience from Atlanta and originally here from Fort Gordon and now hopes to partner with the Richmond County School System to address the shortage many departments are facing throughout the country, hiring and retaining quality workers.
"As an EMT, they can be hired on in hospitals, nursing homes, even ambulances," says Hawthorne.
If approved, This can give High School Students interested in the field a head start by earning certification to become a firefighter before they graduate. "It would look different to an 18, 19-year old then to a 33-year-old with 3 kids starting out with $33,000. Some of the retention problems would be solved because these kids would come in with a pretty good salary," explains Hawthorne.
Hawthorne says he's had positive meetings with School System and has a follow up meeting scheduled in the future. He hopes this can eventually build into a dual enrollment program - all with one goal, creating a foundation for Augusta to continue to have quality firefighters.
"I want to focus on recruiting teenagers in the community. I want to make this fire department accessible to them by going out to the schools," he says.
We reached out to the Richmond County School System. the School Spokesperson tells they like partnerships like this to help students prepare for college and beyond. Hawthorne tells us the Fire Chief has already given the approval to develop a plan to start an Explorer Program.
The program targets Richmond County Middle and High School Students interested in finding out more about the career in fire or emergency services.