MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, MI - The Meridian Township Board met via Zoom on Tuesday, August 18th to take action on a firefighter candidate sponsorship.
The Fire Department has had a difficult time recruiting qualified candidates for the position of paramedic/firefighter. To counter this, the Fire Department proposed that the Township adopt a similar sponsorship program that the Police Department implemented in 2018.
This program would send licensed paramedics to the Fire Academy and will provide wages for the candidates during their time in school, as well as the cost of tuition and fees.
There are two Fire Academies available locally. One is through Lansing Community College (LCC) and runs from August through December. The second is through a collaboration of Ingham County Fire Chiefs and runs October through April.
Meridian Township Fire Chief Mike Hamel spoke on the program, "It's very similar to what Chief Plaga does with the Police Academy at LCC, where we pay for their tuition and we pay them a wage while they're there."
The candidate being sponsored is Angela Kohls, who will attend the LCC Fire Academy. Angela has been a paramedic for ten years and is an instructor at LCC for their paramedic program. Since she works for LCC, she will receive her credits for free, meaning that the program will only cost approximately $1,000 instead of the normal $5,000-$6,000.
"And then what we are going to require is a one year commitment because of the cost of the course," said Chief Hamel. "Normally, if we pay full tuition, just like Chief Plaga does, we are going to request a three year commitment."
Chief Hamel stated that the Academy would end around Thanksgiving, with the goal of having Kohls start around December 1st.
Trustee Patricia Herring Jackson spoke in favor of the sponsorship program, "I think that it is a very positive plan for bringing more people to the department and I fully support our efforts to contribute to the training."
The motion passed unanimously with a vote of 7-0.
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