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Farmington Fire Officials Look Toward The Future

They had anticipated having some new staff on board by now, but the addition of some paid part-time personnel for the Farmington Fire Department will have to wait a little longer.

“We were approved for having three guys hired,” longtime Farmington Fire Chief Conni Bailey explained of the fire board moving ahead with plans to add the paid firefighters.

With the continuing pandemic, Bailey noted that they haven’t been able to bring in potential firefighters for interviews but hope to be able to do that soon. When all three are hired, each firefighter is anticipated to fill two 12-hour shifts a week, keeping under the 40-hour a week threshold.

“They will be on the day shift and shifts will be 12 hours,” explained Bailey.

That would give each firefighter 24 hours a week, with the possibility of picking up a third shift in a week as well, when needed.

The department is looking to add one part-timer at first, then bring on the other two, working them in to the schedule. Farmington right now is an all-volunteer department, with Bailey – as chief – the only paid firefighter on staff. She started with the department as a firefighter, advanced to captain and now serves as chief.

Volunteer Matt Bailey is the assistant chief while John Kalebaugh and Jeff Briggs are captains.

“We’ve got it out there,” Chief Bailey said of the job opening, hoping to have the first new staff member join the department within the next few months.

The chief noted that her department hasn’t been able to send any firefighters to strike teams around the state because they need everyone they have on the roster right now to cover their own area. That is the case with many small departments, both volunteer and paid, including others in San Joaquin County like Ripon and Escalon.

It was a 5-0 vote of the fire board to approve the paid positions for Farmington Fire; board members are Matt Bailey, Ed Bracco, Mike Keener, Butch Latini and Kelly Ogilvie.

Also, said the chief, the department has “blueprints for a new engine” that they are looking to purchase to replace one of the aging vehicles in the fleet.

“We’re moving into the future,” Chief Bailey said.