SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Fire Department administration continues to work on filling open paramedic positions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department was short-staffed before the crisis began and was able to hire two provisional employees. Now that efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus have worked and the pandemic continues, Deputy Fire Chief Richard Stefanowicz asked the Southwick Select Board this week to extend the offers and waive the physical ability test, known as PAT, for now.
Stefanowicz said the state extended the PAT requirements another 60 days. He would like to waive it until the COVID-19 pandemic is over or the staff are able to take the test. He said this would give the two provisional staff full-time status, thus increasing their pay and benefits during this time when both are working.
He said the PAT, which he expects both men will pass, is typically conducted once a week.
“The hope is that this will be resumed by June, but there’s going to be a huge backlog,” Stefanowicz said.
One of the department’s call firefighters has been diligently working to complete his paramedic training and would likely be the department’s next full-time hire, Stefanowicz said.
“He is working as a provisional EMT and his school has remarkably kept pace,” Stefanowicz said. “He should be doing his ride time in the fall and I’d like to extend his provisional offer through Aug. 31.”
Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said he wanted to make sure the Firefighter’s Local Union was on board and the Memorandum of Agreement updated.
Selectman Douglas motioned to table a decision until they had all the information needed.