BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Fire and Rescue Services (BFRS) is launching an in-house paramedic training program, which will be the first of its kind in the entire state.

Birmingham Fire Chief Cory Moon said the inspiration for this program was born from the nationwide shortage of paramedics they feel the effects of locally.

This will be a 7-month fast track program that starts early next year. The first group of 15 people will begin in February and will finish in October.

Chief Moon said the training is free and personnel will be paid their full salary while in class. A $10,000 sign on bonus is included alongside an annual $5,000 bonus for paramedics assigned to rescue units.

BFRS said they want to incentivize their personnel to get a higher level of training so they can provide more advanced care for the community.

“It’ll give us more personnel to be able to put out into the field to give us more flexibility to be able to give relief to our paramedics who are already out there working, so they can work in some other areas of the organization,” Moon said. “It’ll be a huge impact on the level of service that we have; A lot more lives saved.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are about 18,100 openings for EMTs and paramedics projected each year over the past decade. BFRS hopes to fill paramedic vacancies in their transport units.

Moon said their program has been in the works for several years with multiple levels of approval to find ways to pay for their personnel and training equipment.

“The city has been gracious enough to provide the funding for us to get the equipment needed and the place to do the training,” Moon said. “But as far as the training itself, that’s one of the benefits to our personnel. It will be no charge to them. The burden of the cost of (being a) paramedic is one of the things that cause people not to get into paramedics. So, we’ve taken that burden away.”

Chief Moon noted Emergency Medical Services (EMC) is 90% of the work they do each day.

“In order to be good at this job, you want to have the highest level of training in the job to be able to provide the best level of care,” said Chief Moon. “So again, we are encouraging all of our personnel to get the highest level of licenser out there. We’re providing free training. We’re providing more incentives. So, it’s a win-win for our personnel and our citizens.”

Email BFRS at for more hiring information.