CLINTON — The Clinton Fire Department is preparing for its fifth annual Citizens Fire Academy.

Clinton Fire Department Lt. Eric Hosette, who is also a paramedic, said the Citizens Fire Academy, launched in 2014, was largely put together by Lt. Kurt VanDellen to provide a way to better connect the department and residents. Hosette said programs similar to the Citizens Fire Academy have been in place for years in other communities and have yielded positive results.

“The CFA (Citizens Fire Academy) has the goal of better educating the public about how the Clinton Fire Department functions on a day-to-day basis,” Hosette said. “We want the community to know how their tax dollars are being used to serve them. Many people often ask us why we do things the way we do or why don’t we do them a different way. With the CFA, we can better educate people about why certain things are done the way they are.

“We are also able to educate about the types of services that are offered along with what kinds of incidents are happening on a frequent basis in the city. The Clinton Fire Department is constantly reviewing our operations to be sure we are being as efficient as possible.”

Citizens Fire Academy participants get the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with the fire department’s equipment. Hosette said feedback from Citizens Fire Academy alumni is positive, with participants becoming more aware of what the department can do for the community.

“Many citizens take what we do on face value when they see our members operate at an incident,” Hosette said. “By us being able to educate members of the community, they can better understand why we operate the way we do. Many instances are more complex than what it may seem to be and we have had citizens say we were taking too long for something that looked simple.

“Another reason is often overlooked until it is too late. If the fire department addresses the city/public to purchase new equipment to update what has been outdated, shouldn’t the community understand why we are asking for a new piece of equipment? I, as a taxpayer, would want to know why a department in my community is asking to replace something that is still working. With the CFA, we are able to better educate the public about how these pieces of equipment function and serve them. Technology is always evolving and we are always looking for ways to better serve the community.”

The Citizens Fire Academy is a six-week program offered on Tuesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. This year’s program begins April 17. The application period will run from March 15 to March 29. The program lets participants tour all three stations. The classes cover a range of topics, including the history of the Clinton Fire Department and technical rope rescue.

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