High-fives, fist bumps, shoulder bumps and hugs raised the excitement level as members of the Johnson and Kimberlin Heights communities, contractors, visiting dignitaries, and uniformed firefighters milled through the new Station 6 of Seymour Volunteer Fire Department. The construction moved the station house from a garage on the edge of the Johnson campus to the middle of Kimberlin Heights, across from the Gap Creek Market, on a parcel donated by the University.
Guests took special notice of the living quarters and the newly purchased and refurbished pumper with a 65-foot aerial boom. The project, seven years from concept to completion, succeeded due to individuals and companies who either donated labor and material or provided them at reduced cost. Gary Weedman and Knox County commissioner Mike Brown paid tribute to the generosity and persistence of many.
Johnson’s campus and the Kimberlin Heights community are safer due to the commitment of Sevier and Knox counties and the volunteer first responders who continually train to increase their skills and preparedness to serve.
Three Johnson University students recently joined Seymour Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) to help the department meet a fire protection code. The code requires 10 firefighters on the scene of a structural fire within 10 minutes of dispatch. Last fall SVFD received a grant to train student live-in firefighters. Students applied from as far away as Texas and Florida; nine were accepted. Jaden, Gabe, and Josh are full-time Johnson University students.
Jaden Bratton (Class of 2016) came to Johnson from Jacksonville, Florida, where, at 20 years of age, he already served as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. Jaden is on the Management of Nonprofit Organizations program. Coming from New Carlisle, Ohio, Josh Irwin (Class of 2016) is on the Communication program with a concentration in Audio/Radio. And, 22-year-old Gabe Kaiser (Class of 2016) from Arlington, Texas, is on the Bachelor of Science Music and Worship Ministry program. One of the biggest challenges they face is juggling training with classes, studying, and standby time.
Live-in students must each commit to 36 hours of standby time in a station house. In return they receive, through the terms of the grant, up to $8,000 per year tuition assistance in addition to a station house to call home.
Student firefighters will receive training in: Emergency Vehicle Driver, Hazardous Materials Operations, Live Fire Burn, and numerous certifications. Tasha Pitsenbarger, full-time grant coordinator, learned quickly that most of the students do not know how to cook or grocery shop. In order for the students to take advantage of the cost savings to prepare their own meals, Tasha has graciously decided to train them in these more genteel areas of life.