Print Firefighters launch youth program
Written by Greg Ruland   
Thursday, 24 February 2011 00:00

The Cottonwood Fire Department will soon provide local youth with “positive, hands-on and meaningful real-world career” and leadership experience, Fire Chief Mike Casson told Cottonwood City Council on Feb. 15.

The department won unanimous approval and $500 from Cottonwood City Council to launch a Learning for Life Fire Explorer Program, a branch of Boy Scouts of America.

Participants will engage in nonhazardous training, including simulated fire, rescue and emergency response activities.

“The program provides another avenue for Cottonwood Fire Department to have a positive impact on youth development in our community,” Casson said.

The program is expected to build better relationships between the city and its younger residents and provide an avenue for youngsters to give back to their community through service and community improvement projects.

“Explorer Programs are designed to provide young men and women with career opportunities, life skills, citizenship, character education and leadership experience,” firefighter Cameron Atkinson said to council.

Fire Explorer has the potential to train fresh talent locally to work as city service providers like firefighters, emergency medical technicians and volunteers, according to Atkinson.

The department considered several different options, including Cadets, Explorers and Red Shirt programs, but decided Fire Explorer was the best fit for the goals it wants to achieve.

According to Casson, the program will parallel Cottonwood Police Explorers. A local oversight committee will be formed to oversee the program. The committee will consist of a chairman, treasurer, adviser and two members.

Cottonwood Fire Department members will be trained through the Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life program to act as adult youth leaders while on and off duty. The program will hold regularly scheduled meetings and develop youngsters into leaders who can assist with operations.

Insurance purchased by participants will protect the city from liability in the event of an injury, according to Casson.

Council established an initial budget of $500 to launch the program, which requires an annual payment of $20 for a Boy Scouts of America charter fee plus $10 for each youth adult leader, $10 for each youth explorer and $1.20 from each participant for liability insurance.

The new explorer post will generate funds to support itself through membership fees and fundraisers with a goal of becoming fully self-sufficient.