The Easton Fire Department has added six new firefighters to its roster.
The new firefighters are recent graduates of the Allentown Fire Academy. They were sworn in for duty during a ceremony at the Grand Estonian Hotel in Easton on Friday.
The addition of the six new members means the department is up to its full complement of 42 firefighters, something the department hasn't seen in many months.
Easton Fire Chief Mike Krill said at one point, between vacancies and injuries, the department was down nearly a quarter of its staff.
The city of Easton said it paid nearly $800,000 in overtime in 2018 because of this. Krill says the new recruits will help cut down on the OT.
“We can concentrate more on becoming a better fire department,” Krill said.
Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego said it's not unusual for paid and volunteer departments to be down firefighters. He says across the board, fewer people seem to be interested in the job. "We look at the graduating classes across the commonwealth, there are less people in those graduating classes.”
Chief Krill said in addition to the new hires, he plans to add an additional fire fighter soon to prepare for pending retirements.