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BUENA PARK : 200 Line Up for 2 Firefighter Jobs

More than 200 people--some from out of state--turned out at City Hall on Monday to submit applications for two firefighter jobs, city officials said.

Some applicants camped overnight and others arrived at dawn to ensure a slot on the candidates’ list. “There’s a lot of people willing to work,” City Manager Kevin O’Rourke said.

Lawrence I. Temple, director of administrative services, said the line of applicants wrapped around the personnel building even before City Hall opened at 7 a.m., and every parking space was filled.

Temple said 517 men and women picked up applications Friday for the two firefighter jobs. The first 300 people who return the applications will be considered for the openings.

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As of Monday afternoon, Temple said, 219 people had returned their applications, which are being accepted until Oct. 12. The two entry-level posts pay between $30,840 and $39,336 a year, not including benefits, he said.

Temple said this is the first time in 10 years that the city has conducted an open recruitment for firefighters’ positions. In the past, new hires came from a pool of candidates who were part of the city’s apprentice program.

“We could choose the cream of the crop--the most qualified,” he said.

But because of budget cuts, the program has been discontinued.

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The two positions became available when one firefighter retired and another left to accept a job with another fire department, Temple said.

Temple said he wasn’t surprised at the number of people who took out applications. “Every time there is an open recruitment in any agency, there is always a large turnout,” he said. “It’s a very competitive process.”

Temple said candidates came from all over the Southland and Northern California, as well as from out of state.

The next step for the 300 candidates is a written exam. Those with passing scores will be eligible to take the physical agility test. Top candidates then take an oral exam before an independent board of fire supervisors and managers.

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Finalists are placed on an eligibility list and are ranked based on their scores.

Temple said the city plans to hire the two new firefighters by early December.

Next year, Temple said, there could be two more firefighter openings. But the hiring process will be easier.

“We’ll hire off the list,” he said.

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