CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After criticism a year ago for failing to hire minorities and women, the Charlotte Fire Department is changing the way it recruits potential firefighters.

  • Starting December 3, there will be more opportunities for recruits to take the test
  • There will be 12 different opportunities to take exam
  • The department doesn't have a specific number they hope to hire

The department will soon start the search for CFD’s 107th recruit class using different techniques. One way is by giving people more opportunities to take the test.

Charlotte fire recruiter Brian Cunningham says the department learned through feedback that administering the test on one day dramatically limited people's chances. On December 3, the department will spread the first phase of the recruiting process over six days, something they’ve never done before.

"We're actually giving 12 different opportunities to take our written exam," Cunningham said.

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CFD is also welcoming potential candidates to get familiar with the second phase  of the Candidate Physical Ability Test, also known as CPAT.

"Get on the Stairmaster, do the dummy drag, do the ceiling reach and pull, do the ladder raise, crawl through the maze. So, we want you to become very familiar with what you're going to be dealing with," Cunningham said.

Cunningham says the department doesn't have a specific number they hope to hire. The amount of firefighters joining from other departments and ones set to retire determines that amount.

"We right now have about 70 people eligible for retirement, as of today," Cunningham said. "Your department should represent the community that you're in."

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Meaning there's a real opportunity to change the face of the fire department.

If you're curious about starting pay for a Charlotte firefighter, an 18 year old with a high school diploma starts at $42,500. Someone with a two-year associates degree gets a five percent increase and a candidate with a four-year degree will get a 10 percent increase.

Those increases don't kick in until a candidate has completed rookie class. The Career Readiness Project degree program helps prepare participants to take and pass the firefighter written exam.

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