TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson Fire Department is rebuilding after more than 60 veteran firefighters retired since July. The department lost more than a combined 1,000 years of experience.
Former assistant chief, Brad Olson, is just one of the dozens of firefighters who have left the department over the last six months. The retirement surge comes after dozens of employees entered the Deferred Retirement Option Plan back in 2010.
The DROP program allows the city to save money while keeping their veteran firefighters employed for another five years. Because the department knew the retirement wave was coming, they've been able to prepare for the expected loss.
"We have a really good program of certification of going from the firefighter level all the way up through promotions," said Olson. "We're gonna be fine. Tucson is gonna be fine."
In addition to promoting from within the department, TFD also has a new wave of nearly 40 recruits set to graduate by the end of next month.
"As soon as that happens, we're pretty much caught up to our 633 that we're supposed to have of commissioned fire fighters," said Olson.
During a retirement ceremony last week, dozens of men and women reflected on their many years of service. After serving as an assistant chief, paramedic and almost every position in-between, Olson says one of the departments greatest achievements in the last few years was making advancements in they way they fight fire.
"With me, that's a cool thing. "Saying that we're able to hit something from the outside, knowing that we're keeping the civilians safe, but also our firefighters safe is gonna be a great thing."
Tucson Fire Department is currently accepting applications for their next class of recruits. For more information click here.