Lawton Fire Department seeking qualified applicants

Lawton_The Lawton Fire Department needs firefighters.  It is interviewing qualified applicants before April 1.  The department has handed out 168 applications as of Tuesday, and plans to fill between six and eight positions.  So far, 50-60 individuals have applied.

The department seeks applicants possessing certain characteristics:  highly motivated individuals who are prepared for a physically and mentally demanding job.  Firefighter J.T. Beauchamp, who is a recent addition to the department, says that after some volunteer firefighting at Flowermound Volunteer Fire Department, was considered and he was determined to be what the LFD was looking for.  "You're basically one big happy family - through the good times and the bad times, but you're there for them when they need you," he said.

While the familial atmosphere was attractive, he also was drawn to the action.  "I like the structure fires," he said.  I like being inside - you're in a kind of like being in a china cabinet, and you're trying not to damage any more than you have to."

LFD Training Officer Jared Williams says Beauchamp is the sort of guy the department is seeking, and hopes to find more recruits.  The department has been advertising all over town to find the best candidates.  "We are called on people's worst day," he said.  "We are expected to be able to perform, and do a good job, on the worst day of their life."  Williams says the rewards outweigh the potential danger.  "Like the times you get to help the little old lady up - it's kind of like being the Boy Scout."

Williams says the department also gives the brain a workout.  "Hazard(ous) materials field involves a lot of chemistry tech, rescue teams - that takes a lot of math equations."  Beauchamp says he couldn't have chosen any other profession, but has some advice:  "I would make sure I went through some classes, and that I had some hands on experience before I decided to do it the rest of my life."

The Lawton Fire Department says new firefighters start at a salary of about $30,000 per year, and have one of the few 20-year retirement plans still going.  Officials say that after applicants turn in their paperwork, they will take a physical test, written test, and have several interviews before the department chooses the best candidates.