Volunteers serve breakfast during Saturday's community wide breakfast in Ohio City. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Volunteers serve breakfast during Saturday's community wide breakfast in Ohio City. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

OHIO CITY – Ohio City Fire Chief Brandon Bowen said at a community-wide firemen’s breakfast on Saturday that the department is currently recruiting graduating high school seniors through its Junior Fire Training Program.

“We try to recruit kids in high school,” said Bowen. “They must have a valid driver’s license and a junior status in high school. We would like for those interested to get a taste of the fire department. We’re trying to get up and coming kids to take over.

“They go through all of the training exercises with us and go to incidents with us,” continued Bowen. “We have a specific set of rules they must follow at the incident scene. Following the incident, they help gather tools and help put hose away.”

Bowen said that the students are not allowed to drive apparatus while in school.

“Our hope is that they will get into full-time standard fire-fighting,” said Bowen. “We send them through training classes.”

Bowen said that there are two students in the training class. Two seniors from next year are lined up to get into the training class.

“We only accept five in junior status,” said Bowen. “We don’t want to get too many to supervise.”

Bowen said that there are currently six firefighters who have gone through the class, including two in certification class. He noted that the training classes started eight years ago.

“We try to give as much exposure as we can safely,” continued Bowen. “There are also certain academic standards. Somebody is going to have to fill my shoes someday.”

Bowen said that the longest running fireman is 77-year-old Don Witten, who was appointed to the department 39 years ago.

Bowen noted that there are currently 34 fighters on the department, including eight women. Two are EMS only; everyone else is both EMS and fire.

Most recently, the department secured a new engine and new tanker. Bowen said that funding for the two apparatus came from FEMA assistance, Firefighters Grant Program and through a USDA Rural Development Grant.

“We have great community support here,” said Bowen. “We’ve been very fortunate in receiving grant monies.”

Bowen eluded to the hundreds of people that attended Saturday morning’s breakfast at the Ohio City Community Center.

The chief noted that the department is currently transitioning from Basic Life Support into Advanced Life Support.

Bowen noted that the department’s efficiency and safety record is going to help reduce fire insurance to local residents in the near future.