Snohomish County fire agency offering huge incentives to new hires

GETCHELL, Wash. — Ahead of wildfire season, Snohomish County Fire District 22 in Getchell, is offering to pay big money to hire more firefighters.

The department will pay $5,000 in signing bonuses to experienced part-time firefighters who get hired.

“We needed to think outside the box and say, ‘what can we provide that provides a little bit extra draw?’” said Assistant Chief Jeremy Stocker.

No fire agency in Snohomish County has ever offered such large incentives before.

It comes as retirements and intense competition for hires has gradually decreased the number of firefighters at Getchell Fire.

In 2008, 50 firefighters were based out of the department. Now, it’s half that.

“There’s obviously a lot of people that want to get into the fire service, but the pool is the same size and there’s more agencies gobbling that up,” Assistant Chief Stocker told KIRO 7.

As part of the program, experienced part-time firefighters who get hired will receive their signing bonuses after their first year of service.

Similarly, firefighters with lesser experience will receive smaller signing bonuses as well.

“We stay busy enough to where guys get a lot of experience,” said Assistant Chief Stocker. “We go on a lot of wildland firefighting and we have a healthy call volume.”

To get more firefighters through their doors, administrators told KIRO 7 they’re simply reorganizing money in the budget.

In the process, firefighters like Tyler Byrd hoped to soon have some added support.

“It helps me hone my skills, because I’m training other people who, maybe they’re in the same position I was in… starting from zero,” he said.

If all goes well, administrators said they hoped to start training new firefighters in a matter of weeks.

Despite those incentives, Getchell Fire is still a nimble department.

In fact, the only full-time staffers are both the Chief and Assistant Chief. Everyone else is either part-time or a volunteer.