MERRILLVILLE | It could be several months before full-time firefighters can begin service with the Merrillville Fire Department.
Fire Chief Ed Yerga told the Merrillville Fire Protection Territory Board on Wednesday the department has received 30 applications to fill 12 full-time firefighter spots.
The applicants will have agility testing Saturday, Yerga said. They will take written tests May 19. Interviews with the board could begin next month.
Yerga estimates the firefighters could start by Aug. 1.
Volunteer firefighters currently respond to emergency calls in Merrillville and unincorporated Ross Township.
Last year, the Merrillville Town Council and Ross Township Board decided to form a fire territory, a separate taxing district, which has increased funding for the Fire Department.
The additional money allows the department to hire 12 full-time firefighters, but volunteers still will be needed to respond to calls.
The increase also provides funding to replace outdated equipment.
Bill Touchette, the Fire Protection Territory Board's attorney, said he and Yerga are in the process of creating requests for proposals for three fire engines and a pumper tanker truck.
The Fire Department also is creating plans to remodel its station at 18 W. 73rd Ave.
Yerga said the project is necessary to accommodate the full-time firefighters.
Work includes updating the sleeping quarters and bathrooms in the station.
Yerga said an architect is expected to finish plans for the project by next week.
The Fire Department would begin to seek bids for the remodeling work after the plans are ready, he said.