By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Board approved the re-establishment of the WWFT Ride-A-Long firefighter program during a meeting on Tuesday, March 2.
The program is available to those in the fire service who want to learn from WWFT; it was used prior to WWFT starting its part-time firefighter program.
“We’ve been asked by a few to re-open this program,” said WWFT Chief Mike Wilson. “Their own fire department has to sign off on them doing it. They just can’t come do it without the chief of their volunteer or paid department knowing that they’re here. It’s kind of a mentoring program.”
Wilson noted there are new firefighters from Burket Volunteer Fire Department who have asked about the ride-a-long program.
“They’re young men with families who can’t commit to working part-time hours, but they want to be involved in the department,” said Wilson. “This is the easiest way to get them involved.”
Warsaw City Council Member Mike Klondaris, who serves on WWFT’s board, asked Wilson about potential liabilities, such as if participating firefighters are injured in the program or cause WWFT firefighters to become injured.
“The right front seat officer of that engine these individuals are riding on, it’s their responsibility to not allow them into a situation that they’re not trained to take care of,” said Wilson.
“It’s the opportunity to get some manpower,” said WWFT Board Member Brandon Schmitt about the program. “We absolutely could use the people as long as they’re experienced enough to handle what’s going on. But Chief Wilson is right. The officer in that seat won’t allow a ride-along or even a part-time person to get into a situation they shouldn’t be in.”
The WWFT board approved the program’s return on the condition liability paperwork that participants must sign be collaboratively reviewed by the WWFT attorney and township attorney.
The program will also be presented to Warsaw’s Board of Public Works and Safety for approval after the documents are approved by the respective attorneys.
In other business, the preliminary schedule for WWFT’s Citizens’ Fire and Rescue Academy was approved. The schedule is set for an 11-week course, with classes meeting twice a week. The academy would provide up to 15 citizens with the opportunity to learn about the fire territory’s daily operations and emergency responsibility.
The board also gave the fire territory permission to establish a detailed plan for a proposed public safety house. Inspired by the Survive Alive House in Fort Wayne’s Safety Village, WWFT proposed creating a single-family residence that would be used to educate people of all ages on fire safety. The board requested further details on possible locations for the house and cost estimates.
A monthly fire activity report for the month of January was also provided to the board by Wilson. WWFT had 228 calls for service, 72 of which were fire-related.
For January medical calls, Station 1 responded to 83; Station 2 responded to 57; and Station 3 responded to 16 calls for service.
The board’s next meeting is at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 6.