FIRE DEPARTMENT: CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

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FIRE DEPARTMENT:
CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM

 

Problem Identification:
The financial and operational benefits of the Department’s apprenticeship program remain unclear.

Recommended Action:
Critically evaluate the apprenticeship program, giving consideration to whether it has been successful in meeting appropriate goals.

Classification:
Organizational

Functional/Operational Area:
All Department operations

Estimated Annual Impact:
Cannot be Estimated

Estimated Implementation Costs:
Not Determined

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
120 – 180 days

Next Steps:
Convene a Departmental working group to determine the criteria to study apprenticeship program.

Analysis:
The Department’s firefighter/paramedic apprenticeship program is a four-year initiative where participants receive classroom and on-the-job training in firefighting techniques and the delivery of emergency medical services (EMS). Participants receive an increasingly higher percentage of a full firefighter’s or paramedic’s regular pay upon the successful completion of nine program steps over the course of the four-year program. When hired, apprentices make 51 percent of the top pay for a full-fledged firefighter or paramedic, and receive between two and eleven percent increases every six months until reaching parity with the full pay scale after four years. The apprenticeship program has taken on increased importance in light of the high number of Departmental personnel that have retired in recent years through the City’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). Participants represent a low-cost solution to some of the Department’s staffing issues.

Given the totality of recommendations included within this report that impact the Department’s staffing needs and practices, this seems to be an opportune time to assess the success of the apprenticeship program, determine its necessity should other staffing-related recommendations be implemented, and make an informed decision as to the fiscal and operational desirability or feasibility of extending the program.