BROOKLINE, Mo.– Eight full-time firefighters at three volunteers were pinned at Brookline Fire Station Wednesday night. Staff just finished their six month probationary period, are now officially with the department.

“We’ve come a long way in six months,” Brookline Fire Chief James Kilburn said. “We hired a lot of people that already had a ton of skill and had a lot of experience in other departments. So with that we were able to you know hit kind of hit the ground running.”

In the August 2021 election, voters approved a taxy levy increase so the department could hire more staff and have more money for operational costs.

“I love to see progress,” Missouri Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “I’m very excited for the community and what they’re going to be offering to the citizens.”

Brookline Fire has 14 career firefighters and 18 volunteers. Brookline Fire became a district back in 1980, and has relied on volunteers since then until October 2021. The district did have a few full-time staff before October. The district covers roughly 36-square miles. Brookline Fire said responses times have already improved with more staff.

“We went from having volunteers respond to the station from their home, from their jobs, and then grab the trucks out the door and then, and then to this emergency situation, to now we have people staffed at the station, ready to go and they’re out the door,” Kilburn said. “They can forego that five- to seven-minute time that it takes to get from their home to here, to the station.”

Paid staff will work 48-hour shifts in groups of three. Brookline is considered a combination department, a mix of volunteer and career staffers— a move they hope will relieve stress, so firefighters won’t need to be available all of the time.

“I came from West Plains and it’s a community of 12,000,” Bean said. “We had a combination department similar to this, we had full time people, career people and then we had our volunteers and that combination worked real well.”

Brookline Fire wants to not only hire more full-time staff, but volunteers too.

“We’re continuing to build that volunteer side as well, continually training and recruiting new people,” Kilburn said. “We’re seeing a fair amount of people that are showing interest in coming on board to volunteer.”

The district said this will be the first of many pinning ceremonies.