During my teenage years, my mother married the Claremore fire marshal. Over the next several years, he rose through the ranks to Deputy Chief and finally Chief. With my stepbrother wanting to be a firefighter since he could first walk and talk (he managed to wait until he was 18), we spent a fair amount of time around the station. I was always intrigued by the guys cooking dinner for each other, as well as the “living room” with an entire row of recliners. Back then, I knew a lot of the guys, and everyone knew the chief’s kids.
(Pictured: Chief Sean Douglas (left) and Lieutenant Darrell Simmons. And a train. Because it’s Claremore.)
Now, I don’t know anyone in the Claremore Fire Department. I didn’t even know where the administrative offices were anymore (in the olden days, the offices were housed in what is now the Claremore Museum of History) until I had the pleasure recently of meeting Chief Sean Douglas.
Born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Sean grew up as an Army brat, living in Germany for six years, until landing in St. James, Missouri. His step-grandfather was assistant fire chief there, and got Sean involved in a junior firefighter program at age 11. Growing up around the world of firefighting, Sean was interested at a young age. But the junior program sealed his fate.
He was hooked.
Sean stayed in Missouri, attending college in Warrensburg and earning a degree in safety management/fire science. During his time in school, he worked as a volunteer for the Warrensburg fire department. He graduated, then stayed on to earn a master’s degree in public service administration while working as a building inspector. During his final semester, he became a full-time member of the department, as a firefighter EMT. He earned his paramedic certification and was promoted to fire marshal, then assistant chief. By the time he left Warrensburg, he’d spent a total of 18 years there. And yes, he realizes that typically people only spend four or five years in their college town!
During the summer of 2010, Sean and his wife, Megan, were looking for a change of scenery. Seeing that a position was open with Claremore Fire and that the community had a lot of similarities to Warrensburg, yet was even closer to their families, they decided to head south.
Sean and Megan are enjoying Claremore very much, both their jobs and the town. (Megan works for an engineering firm in Tulsa.) According to Sean, his main focus is to support the firefighters in the various stations (Claremore currently has three), as they are the people who have the most impact on the community.
As long as I can remember, we’ve always had the same three stations. I asked Sean if it’s fact or fiction that the stations are located where they are due to the large amount of train traffic. He said that while we could certainly use a fourth station (location scouting is in the works), the trains not an issue. In the very rare case that a train would cause a delay, the guys can always call another department for back-up, if necessary. That being said, we may have three fire stations, but only one ambulance company. It should ease your mind to know that the majority of Claremore’s firefighters are certified EMTs, and they can do just about anything an ambulance crew can do, with the exception of transporting a patient. This is a good thing, since about 60% of the department’s calls are EMS-related. The average response time for a call is 4.5 minutes. Sounds pretty quick to me!
So what do firefighters do all day? They don’t spend all their free time in those recliners, that’s for sure! A huge chunk of time is spent in training and pre-incident planning, like reviewing buildings in case of a potential hazard. They spend a lot of time educating the public, especially during Fire Prevention Week in October. Remember as a kid when you got the Stop, Drop and Roll presentation? They do things like that. Safety fairs and station tours are also popular with the kiddies.
One thing you may not know is that fire stations can install your child safety seat for you! I did this as a mom-to-be, and I’m so glad I did. Also, if you’re unable to purchase a safe carseat due to financial restraints, the fire department can help you get one at no cost. All you need to do is call Jason Crandall, the fire marshal, at 918-341-1477.
Additionally, if you need help installing smoke detectors or learning how to use your fire extinguisher, guess what? You can call Jason Crandall. On a side note, remember to change your smoke detector batteries every Daylight Savings, and check them weekly. I told Sean that I check mine much more often than that, thanks to my great skills in the kitchen.
Speaking of, cooking-related fires are one of the most common causes of having a big, red truck visit your home. Remember to not leave food cooking unattended. If you do cause a (small) fire, pour salt or baking soda on the flames, or better yet, use your fire extinguisher. You have one in your kitchen, right? If not, you can pick one up for about $20 at a hardware store, or even Walmart.
One thing I didn’t know was that it’s legal to burn brush within the city limits, but you do need to get a (FREE) permit. How to do that? Call Jason Crandall! He can also arrange CPR classes, if you have a group that’s interested.
There’s been some buzz lately about the fact that the Senior Citizens Center downtown is moving. They’ll be in the former church at the corner of Sioux and Blue Starr. Know who will be sharing space with them? Your friendly fire administrators: Chief Sean Douglas, Fire Marshal Jason Crandall, Deputy Chief Matt Wilson and Training Officer Jason Philpot. The move should happen in May of this year. (That construction project has been going on for ages; I bet it will be a happening place when it’s finished!) The site will also serve as an Emergency Operations Center during times of disaster. Let’s hope we don’t need it for that.
Sean is happy to be in Claremore, part of a “great community and department.” He said, “The citizens of Claremore should feel blessed to have the protection they do.”
Oh, and remember, if you see an emergency vehicle heading your way, please pull over! It’s preferable to being run over.
If you have any questions or would like more information on what the Claremore Fire Department can offer, feel free to call the administration office at 918-341-1477, Monday – Friday, 8a – 5p.
Keep it local, Claremore!
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
who’s only had the fire department visit twice
for cooking catastrophes