The parking lot outside the Bellevue Fire Department headquarters looked different Sunday. It was filled with vehicles because as of Sunday, firefighters stopped volunteering and started getting paid.
For firefighters, that means regular hours at the firehouse, something the former volunteers will have to get used to. The new paid positions are meant to get trucks to fires more quickly. Before, when duty called, volunteers would have to get to the station first. Now, they just throw on their boots and they're out the door.
Captain Perry Guido called day one a success. "We've had numerous calls and it's worked very well this morning as far as getting out the door."
The next two months will be transitional before full staffing occurs. Eventually two shifts with 20 firefighters per shift will cover the city's four firehouses. Putting that plan together has not been easy.
"We've had to push it back a number of times and set dates, but we wanted to make sure we were going to be able to produce and function properly."