BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — More than 30 new recruits are training for the Baton Rouge Fire Department during a time when they are needed the most — amid a national firefighter shortage.

Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesperson Curt Monte says applications have been on a decline for five to 10 years. Now, the department is doing it’s all to make ends meet.

“Every day that we may be short on paper, they will go in and hire firefighters back for overtime. So, we never leave the trucks actually short,” said Monte.

Despite the new class, the department still has vacancies to fill.

“We short about 70 firefighters right now, we’ve got 34 in class. That only fills a small void of the need that we’ve got of natural attrition, people retiring,” said Britt Hines, BRFD assistant chief of training.

Monte says the department responds to more medical calls in the approaching summer and hurricane season. For them, now is a vital time to have a full staff.

“This is more of a career, it’s a will to serve, it’s a passion to serve the public,” he said.

“It’s not a behind-the-desk job. It’s something that’s different every day. You know, it’s people running out of different scenarios, scenes, stuff like that. The firefighters are running in,” said Hines.

BRFD encourages everyone to attend Red Stick Ready Day for more information on hurricane safety. For more information on Red Stick Ready Day, click here.