DFEMS to launch emergency academy to recruit new firemen

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The Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services is preparing to launch an emergency Fire Academy to make up for the loss of nine firefighters who were terminated for refusing to get vaccinated.

According to DFEMS Commissioner Dennis Mendiola, the department and the administration will be starting the academy as soon as possible.

Saipan Tribune learned that the target date for the start of the academy is June and the official announcement to begin applying should be posted on the Office of Personnel Management’s page next month. However, the target dates still remain tentative.

With the recent loss of nine firefighters, who were sacked after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Mendiola said the department only has 114 personnel right now and is stretched thin.

“We’re already stretched thin, so what we did was we deployed personnel from Rota and Tinian to augment the shortage. We [need] to launch an emergency Academy and hopefully we can fill these positions as soon as possible,” he said.

In addition, the department will also be working with the Northern Marianas College so applicants can satisfy one of the requirements, which is passing English 101.

“[Applicants] still have to go through NMC and get their basic English 101 certification in order to be a part of this academy. We’re working directly with NMC on how soon we can launch this. We’re also working directly with our training section on what’s the criteria, what’s the standards, and how soon we can get this up and running,” he said.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, of the initial 23 individuals who signed a petition against the mandatory vaccination, nine were issued termination notices last Monday effective immediately for continuing to defy a directive to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The petition originally started off with 23 individuals but when the department put them on administrative leave, 14 of the 23 consulted with family members who convinced them to be vaccinated.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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