Lure Of Iraq Depletes Ranks Of Rocky Mount's Fire Department

It's hazardous duty either way, but the money's a lot better in Iraq than in Rocky Mount. That's why the city's fire department is struggling to replace more than a dozen firefighters who have left for jobs overseas.

Acting Fire Chief Keith Harris calls it the "Iraq phenomenon." He says 17 of the city's crew members have resigned in the past 21 months and it's hard to blame them, considering the money they make as contract firefighters at military bases in Iraq.

It takes 22 weeks to train a firefighter. Harris says the city is short 25 people out of its 120-person roster. Seventeen fire academy cadets are due to graduate in April, but in the meantime, the department's running with minimum staff and a lot of overtime.