The Prairie Township Board of Trustees recently voted to spend $8,000 for firefighter Rob Cloud to attend the Ohio Fire Executive Program, pending his acceptance to the program.

The Prairie Township Board of Trustees recently voted to spend $8,000 for firefighter Rob Cloud to attend the Ohio Fire Executive Program, pending his acceptance to the program.

Cloud, who is also employed at Medflight of Ohio as a paramedic, made news last month when he placed fifth in the METI Cup National Championship competition in San Jose, Calif., for his prowess in the paramedic field.

Fire Chief Steve Feustel said the Ohio Fire Executive Program is designed to train officers to become senior officers in the fire department. Cloud would be required to take 200 hours of classroom studies and another 300 to 500 hours doing research outside the classroom, he said.

"There is a paper requirement which is then published nationally," Feustel said. "The student does the paper and project pertinent to our department, but it also applies nationally. The program is extensive, very detailed and intense."

Feustel said the $8,000 price tag is cheap compared to the $10,000 usually spent to test a candidate to see if he or she is qualified for a position such as chief within the fire department.

"This is one of the steps to progress a firefighter to officer level," he said. "I think it beneficial for our fire department to be promoted with these kinds of credentials."

There are four officers within the department who qualify for the program, Feustel said, but currently only Cloud is wanting to prepare an application.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity," trustee Nicole Schlosser said.

Township residents said they were concerned that the township would be wasting its money should the firefighter decide to move to another department after the program.

Feustel reassured residents, saying Cloud would have to reimburse the township the money should he decide to switch to another fire department after completing the course.

"The men who get into this make it a high priority," Feustel said. "I looked at his dedication to the township and it is higher than most. He has a high desire to achieve. He has the education and stamina to make it through the program."

Schlosser said its necessary to prime the next firefighter to one day become chief.

"If we are losing good firefighters to other departments we need to re-look at how we compensate," Schlosser said. "I have a soft spot with those who really want to have those educational opportunities. We want to create opportunities for those individuals who are our next leaders."

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