February 21, 2024

Council curious about junior firefighter concept

Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson, center, asseses the situation Wednesday as Creston was called by Osceola to assist with a fire at a grain elevator. Murray was also called for help. Osceola was able to control the fire not needing the assistance from the other departments.

Creston City Council agreed to table a proposal Tuesday by Fire Chief Todd Jackson of creating a junior firefighter program as a way to recruit and potentially have more members on the department.

The idea trains older teenagers with firefighting techniques under supervision and in specific situations. Jackson said there are limitations. Council member Jocelyn Blazek questioned the proposal.

“As a former member of a junior firefighter program, there were a number of issues and concerns over the years. I have to say I’m not in favor. I think there will be potential lability impact. I see it having some impact. I’m not in favor,” she said.

Blazek asked Jackson if he has researched how it would impact to the city’s liability insurance. He said he does not know of any changes and the program would not require more funding outside the department’s budget.

Council member Kiki Scarberry asked Blazek if she could go into further detail with her experience. She declined. Scarberry then asked if the motion could be changed to table. Council members Richard Madison and Steve Wintermute, who initially approved the motion and second, were in favor of changing it to table to have time for additional research.

“This is one of the things we have been thinking about to increase our numbers,” Jackson said about the purpose of the plan. He said Corning and Woodburn have had similar programs. Wood

“We are looking at multi-faceted ways to improve our numbers; grab young adults show them what we do. With the hopes when they hit 18 we can have them as a volunteer firefighters,” Jackson said.

Under the proposal, Jackson will take 16- to 18-year-old people. Those interested must be in good academic standing at their respective school and during their time in the program. A minimum 2.0 grade point average is required.

The applicants must complete an application including medical authorization, criminal background check and parental or legal guardian consent. Applications will be approved by the chief, officers and junior firefighter training officer.

Information provided by Jackson stated the members will serve in a support role for the firefighters at calls as a supplement to formal training. Junior firefighters will attend monthly meetings with the entire department.

Jackson said having up to six in the program is ideal as that is a number for the most efficient training.

“I don’t want 12,” he said.

“By the time they are 30 and have kids, they say they don’t have time. I believe it,” he said about recruiting additional firefighters at later times in life.

In other council action...

Approval was given to an easement request from ITC Midwest at 1714 Osage St.

recommedation of the planing and zoning commission for a use permit at 601 W. Townline, which is Creston school district property.

Acquisiton of nuisance property at 400 S. Walnut and 615 N. Maple streets.

Approval of a one-year lease to to Creston Arts Council for space in the former water department office.

Council member Matt Levine was not in attendance.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.