By Pete Wicklund
WISCONSIN DELLS – One of the benefits the WSFIA provides its members is the opportunity to be considered for one of two scholarships to attend the annual Fire Prevention Professionals Conference.
The Jesse Pickett Memorial Scholarships are intended to help individuals or departments that may face financial or budget hurdles in being able to attend the conference. The 2015 WSFIA scholarship recipients were Joe Scruggs of the Somers Fire and Rescue Department in Kenosha County and Gary Blank of the Town of Center Fire Department in Outagamie County.
Joe started his fire service involvement in 1999, when he enrolled in the fire science program at Gateway Technical College. He joined the Somers F.D. as a paid-on-call firefighter/EMT in 2000. He was hired full time in 2008 and was given the additional duty of fire inspector. In 2013, with the retirement of the fire chief and senior inspector, Joe took over all fire inspection, plan review, preplans and fire prevention responsibilities.
Joe has worked to update his department’s plan review and inspection process to a web-based system on the village website. With the help of the Somers F.D. public education officer, Joe started his department’s first smoke detector program, which involves stocking the department’s frontline apparatus with smoke and CO alarms, extra batteries and informational materials so that detectors can be installed in the field when firefighters encounter the need.
Joe became a member of WSFIA member in 2015.
Gary joined the Town of Center F.D. in 2010. He holds the rank of firefighter and is the department’s fire inspector as well as the department secretary. Gary is employed as an electronics design engineer with Ducommun in Appleton.
The 2015 WSFIA conference was the first one Gary was able to attend, thanks to the scholarship. He is hoping to convince his department’s leadership to pick up the costs for future conferences because he said the 2015 conference program really opened his eyes to the issues inspectors statewide face and the resources available to assist them.
“I didn’t realize all that’s out there,” said Blank.