CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The Charleston Fire Department has been struggling when it comes to staffing over the years. Now, that’s about to change.

Firefighters are essential to run a city.

“We just had a ton of retirements in the last few years, we’re going to continue to see that over this next year,” Trevor Dysart, Assistant Chief at the Charleston Fire Department said.

With so many people leaving, the fire department is actively trying to get those positions filled. They now have a recruit class of 31 members that will bring the department up to 169 firefighters which is full staffing.

“We’re pretty excited to have them come on and I think it’s going to help the guys currently on the job so they can be at home more with their families,” Dysart said. “We make do. We get out there and we do the job that we have to do. We do have overtime, so we do a lot of overtime for the guys. We try to adjust the schedules a little bit so we’re fully staffed all the time, but it’s tough.”

The recruits will go through 15 weeks of training, four weeks of EMT training and 11 weeks of firefighter training.

“They’ll learn firefighter one and two skills which is just you know, using hose lines, using ladders, operating an IDLH which is an immediately dangerous life and health atmosphere,” Dysart said.

They’ll also learn firefighter safety and survival and how to drive emergency vehicles.

The training already started on May 16. The department will also recruit another class of 15 firefighters next year.