By Bill Shields

AUBURN (CBS) – For generations, being a firefighter was a coveted career. Good pay and benefits and you were saving property and lives. But these days, fire departments across the state don’t have enough applicants to fill open positions.

“When we had an open position ten years ago, we’d receive 100 applicants for that one position,” said Auburn Fire Chief Stephen Coleman. “I have one position that is currently vacant that I have been advertising for two weeks. The deadline closes Friday, and I have three resumes on my desk for one open position.”

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The problem, says Coleman, is not with federal stimulus money. But rather, he says it’s just the nature of the world these days. “When you get a college degree and come out making $70,000 to $80,000 a year working on a computer especially in today’s environment, you’re hard pressed to attract someone,” Coleman said.

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“I think when you look at all the trades, whether it’s carpenters, plumbers, electricians, they’re all crying for help,” Coleman said.

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The Auburn Fire Department has 40 full-time firefighters and 30 are paramedics. Pay starts at $60,000 dollars a year and it’s a dangerous, physically demanding job. But most of the firefighters do it because they want to help people in their community.