By Randy Bell
The Clinton Fire Department (CFD) is better prepared to go off-road, thanks to the generosity of a local business leader. Fire Chief Jeff Blackledge said a donation from the benefactor, who prefers to remain anonymous, allowed the department to equip a brush truck to fight wildfires in locations which a larger apparatus can have difficulty accessing.
“This was a pickup truck that we had in our fleet,” Blackledge told the Board of Aldermen at the October 17 meeting. “We were able to take it out of service and do some work to it.” The chief said that included adding a 200-gallon water tank and pump, along with 300 feet of hose.
The drought that began during the summer and stretched into the fall created conditions across the city that were favorable for grass fires. Despite a burn ban being issued, CFD had to deal with a couple of fires larger than twenty-five acres in the McRaven Road and Norrell Road areas, as well as several smaller fires.
Blackledge also told the Board that he’s trying to add firefighters.
“We are right now at fifty-seven strong on our force. We need to be at sixty-one,” Blackledge reported. “We are in the middle of a hiring process. We’re trying to get four able bodies to come out and help us out.”
The chief said the department is running about a hundred calls for service ahead of last year’s pace, averaging 8.8 calls per day. Through September, firefighters had gotten just over 2,400 calls, with more than half of those for emergency medical services.