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By VINCE LUECKE
TELL CITY – High-school and college-age students may soon have the opportunity to learn more about firefighting through a junior firefighting program proposed by the Tell City Fire Department and Boy Scouts of America.
Fire Chief Greg Linne sought the Tell City Board of Public Works and Safety’s approval to check out the feasibility of forming a junior firefighter program.
He attended Monday’s meeting with Scout representatives Michael Richard and John Harding.
Linne said the program would be open to males and females ages 14 to 20 and would be focused on teaching the career of firefighting. Scout Explorer programs are offered in several fields, including firefighting.
“They’ll get to see it as a career and learn about what it might be like to be a firefighter for a paid department” Linne said. For the Tell City Fire Department, the program could help recruit new volunteers when the junior firefighters are older. Participants could also pursue training that could interest them in careers with larger departments that employ full-time firefighters.
A minimum of five students is needed and Linne said a simple survey at Tell City High School turned up at least 10 interested students.
He said the program would be limited, at first, to Tell City-Troy Township students but if successful, could be offered to other high schools in the county.
Participation would cost $24 per year with fundraisers likely covering that cost as well as turnout gear. While junior firefighters would be prevented from taking part in active fire scenes, they would take part in evening and weekend training.
“There are departments that have their junior firefighters learn how to retrieve tools and pass out water, basically support services,” Linne said.
The program will focus on firefighting but could also expand to include emergency services, such as the county’s rescue squad. It also relies on volunteers.
Richard and Harding said the program would follow curriculum of Scouts’ Explorer program and will include leadership opportunities and community service activities. With the works board’s approval Monday, Linne will work to prepare details of a former proposal. In the meantime, city attorney Jim Tyler will review guidelines to ensure the program offers liability protection for the city and participants.
Members do not have to be Scouts but Scouts in the 14- to 20-year-old range who are interested in the program will be eligible to apply.
A formal proposal could be presented to the board this summer. A program could be offered to a first class of junior firefighters as early as this fall.