The journey to become a paid Raleigh firefighter

The journey to become a paid Raleigh firefighter


RALEIGH, N.C. — Labor shortages are creating real problems for businesses and local governments. The Raleigh Fire Department is taking applications. The hiring process for new recruits is currently underway for anyone who is 19 or older. No previous fire experience is required.

 

What You Need To Know

The Raleigh Fire Department is currently hiring new recruits

Michael Weaver Jr. walked away from his banking job to pursue a career as a first responder

The starting salary for a firefighter is around $38,000, according to the City of Raleigh

 

Michael Weaver Jr., a current recruit training with the Raleigh Fire Department, quit his job in the banking industry last year.

“Going to work at a desk job every day, I was just like you know what, I kind of want to be outside,” Weaver said. “Do something where I can help the community. I’m young and energetic. I just want to help people.”

The fire department says it wants motivated people like Weaver to apply. The program at Keeter Training Center lasts for seven months, giving Weaver and his fellow recruits the necessary time to practice and improve their skills. Even though Weaver is physically fit, wearing an extra 60 pounds of gear is something he is not yet used to.

“You gotta get your mind right for it,” Weaver said. “Honestly, coming in I thought it would be easy. You know you think you’re going to the gym and lifting weights every day was enough. It’s a job that you gotta do it, just to get better at it.”

Weaver, who is from New Bern, moved to Raleigh in the fifth grade. He graduated from N.C. A&T in Greensboro. He is the first in his family to become a firefighter. His decision to be a first responder was initially a shock to his parents. Now he has their support.

For such a dangerous job, firefighters are historically underpaid. According to the City of Raleigh, the starting salary for a firefighter is around $38,000. That is 25% less than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for Weaver it is more than just a job.

“I feel like anyone that’s a first responder is a hero,” Weaver said. “On the inside, it makes me feel great. Honestly.”

Next week Weaver will graduate with his class from the Fire Academy and join the ranks as an official Raleigh firefighter.



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