JASPER, Tenn. - No one seems to know how or why the city's junior firefighter program was stopped years ago, but now Jasper officials are ready to reignite it.
The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently voted unanimously to revive the program subject to approval by the city's insurance carrier.
Jasper Fire Department Chief Chris Rector said he has been approached by several parents and others asking about restarting the junior firefighters.
The program will be offered to teens between 15 and 17, he said, and three already have expressed an interest in joining.
Junior firefighters would not be allowed inside structures, Rector said, but they could perform certain duties on the outside of a live-fire incident.
"It's a step-up program," he said. "They're restricted as to what they can do. Their training gets to where when they do turn 18, we would try to get them started in the program just like what we do [as full-fledged firefighters]."
City Attorney Mark Raines said he hasn't checked with the city's insurance carrier yet to determine if having the program would create any liability issues, but he will do so soon.
"As long as our carrier approves it, I don't see a problem," he said.
Mayor Paul Evans said his son was involved with the junior firefighters in high school more than 20 years ago.
"I don't remember why and when it was stopped," he said. "If we can get some young people involved in the fire department, it's just going to benefit us down the road."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.