Weathersfield OKs fire dept. chaplain hire

WEATHERSFIELD — Township trustees have approved a chaplain program for the fire department and Pastor Ronald Blakeman of the Mineral Ridge Church of Christ will serve as its first one.

Trustee Chairman Steve Gerberry said at Tuesday’s meeting the chaplain will go to fire scenes when there is a tragic situation or bad structure fire to provide support and comfort to victims and also safety forces.

He said trustees said that many times structure fires have a mental effect on those called to the scene and also the victims.

“This is a great program we need. We are concerned about the mental health of our safety forces who may need someone to talk to or deal with difficult situations. We also want to be there for the residents who may have lost their home and belongings in a fire,” said Gerberry, who worked for 17 years in a funeral home and understands what people go through with loss of a loved one or in a tragedy. “I took training myself to help and comfort families when they are faced with difficult situations.”

Gerberry said the fire department has senior members who have over 30 years and new junior firefighters who just started with everyone handling situations differently.

“The chaplain can be there to provide comfort and console people as the firefighters battle the fire,” Gerberry said.

He said Blakeman already has undergone training to be the chaplain.

Fire Chief Thomas Lambert said he spoke to Austintown and other fire departments about their chaplain programs. He said the chaplain in Austintown became interested in becoming a firefighter and went through the training.

He also said the chaplain can help make arrangements with the American Red Cross, Niles Community Services, Salvation Army or another agency for food, clothing or shelter for a family or person.

The chaplain will receive $10.50 per call he responds to and $11.75 per training session.

Gerberry said the program will cost approximately $1,600 based on the estimated call volume.



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