Charlottesville Fire Department gains diverse new class

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville Fire Department has a new recruiting class. It’s the biggest one in history and the most diverse one since 1865.

“The Charlottesville community is a very diverse community as you well know, and interestingly enough, it is important for a fire department to also reflect what’s within the community. So in doing so we want to make sure we address it from that aspect,” CFD Chief Dr. Hezedean Smith said.

CFD says this is the most diverse class since 1865. Additionally, this group more than doubles the size of previous classes.

This larger class comes after shortages in previous years.

“We’re adding 15 new positions to the staff of the Charlottesville Fire Department, and the remaining of them - which was 22 - the rest of the 22 is going to be filling vacancies that we’ve had in the last year,” Captain of Training Jess Rodzinka said.

The department received a SAFER Grant to hire some additional help.

“The idea is really to address the staffing deficits that we have and hopefully providing a more-comprehensive service delivery model,” Smith said.

Even though this group is bigger, the training process has remained the same. The classes operate as units in order to form bonding, and all 22 members travel everywhere together.

“We call them engine companies. We’ve divided them into five engine companies and they work as a team during class, building that team dynamic that they’re going to see a lot during shift work with the other firefighters,” Joe Phillips said.

After 101 days of training together, the class graduates Friday, July 23. Some will start work right away on Saturday.

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