The Round Rock and Pflugerville Fire Departments offer an in-house training and certification process.

ROUND ROCK, TX (KXAN) — New recruitment efforts for the Round Rock Fire Department and Travis County Emergency Services District #2 are expanding the pool of candidates.

“You used to have to come into town with a fire safety certificate and at least an EMT certificate,” said Round Rock Fire Chief Shane Glaser.

The department’s new “Green Academy” is working on this step. Round Rock recruits cadets who have not yet passed certification and provides them with classroom and practice sessions to prepare for the state certification test. Throughout the process, they are paid as city employees.

“That’s what can stop people from going to fire school because they can’t work, so they pay for school and have no income,” Glaser said. “It allowed us to find people who were thinking about becoming a firefighter but didn’t know which school to go to. And now we are taking them here through all the stages.”

Round Rock Green Academy opened Monday. Travis County ESD #2 is already well underway.

“We found civilians, we hired them, we did paid on-the-job training,” said ESD 2 chief Nick Perkins. “And now we have solved the hiring problem that many departments face.”

Both cities continue to grow rapidly, putting a strain on first responders.

“This is a long-term investment for the city of Round Rock,” said Billy Colburn, president of the Round Rock Firefighters Association. “You’re talking about professional firefighters who don’t come and go. We want to get 25-30 years from an employee, and you can’t replace that.”

The 19 people who entered the Green Academy had to pass an aptitude test and a preliminary physical test. The City of Round Rock will pay salaries to trainee firefighters. Colburn said the funds come from money earmarked for the program in the city budget.

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