Highland Park Fire Department fully staffed for the first time in 40 years

Until recently, the Highland Park Fire Department was operating using part-time firefighters.

For the first time in 40 years, the city of Highland Park’s Fire Department is fully staffed. 

That’s a significant milestone for the city as it’s faced a lot of financial challenges. 

Until recently, the Highland Park Fire Department was operating using part-time firefighters, Chief Erik Hollowell says.

“Nothing against the part-time personnel whatsoever. I promise you on that. Majority of the guys I’ve hired full-time from the part time program,” Hollowell told WDET. “So it’s not picking on the part-time program, but in order for you to control what you’re doing, especially for an emergency service, you need to know who’s going to be there. Not have to look at the schedule, who’s coming in today at this time, that time. Now I know who’s there for the rest of the year.”

There are now 35 firefighters that make up the department, Hollowell said. The almost three-square-mile-wide city had four fire stations at one point.

“The manpower was at its peak at 115, and that’s just for the fire department,” Hollowell says. “The police department was even more than that. From the time when I started, we were still in the hundreds.”

For Highland Park and its residents, the news is significant — not just for what it means for the community — but also for what it says about recovery efforts in the city.

Use the video player below to hear the full interview with Hollowell at the 41:44 mark.

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