The Brownwood City Council approved plans to use a $10,000 Birch Foundation donation for the Brownwood Fire Department during its Tuesday-morning meeting at city hall.   

Brownwood fire chief Eddy Wood will use the money to transfer his Blue Card Instructor certification to Brownwood Fire and Rescue and send another officer to training. He said the proposal will use about $7,800 of the donated funds.   

“What we’d like to use this funding for is to renew my training certification through Blue Card Command and to send one other member of the department to Phoenix to become a Blue Card instructor,” Wood said. “What we’re after with this is to improve our fire operations on the ground. I’ve seen this program work before, I’ve discussed it with the department members and they endorse adopting this program.”   

Captain James LeMond will become the other certified instructor. Each BFD officer and driver will undergo a 50-hour online training program and pass a 24-hour simulation lab to complete the course, according to the council agenda.   

According to its website, the Blue Card Incident Command Certification Program is “designed to first instruct, train and then evaluate and certify fire department officers who … supervise and manage emergency and hazard zone operations.” It allows officers to “make better decisions that will potentially eliminate the lethal and/or costly mistakes that cause injury, death and unnecessary fire losses.”   

Wood said there are only 13 departments in Texas with this credential and that the BFD can train its own firefighters and those from surrounding communities under the certification. He said the additional certification will allow the department to do its continuing education “in-house” as opposed to bringing someone in.   

City manager Emily Crawford said the Birch Foundation donated the $10,000, unsolicited, in October 2016 and stipulated that it should be spent on the fire department, but did not further restrict its use. “We’ve been looking for the best way to spend that money,” Wood said. “Investing that in firefighter safety is something that’s really going to leave a lasting impression for us for years to come.”   

The city council also voted to:   

•    Approve on first reading rescinding Ordinance No. 96-20, which prohibited parking and provided handicap parking along a portion of W. Anderson. TSTC has “established proper handicap parking between the two main buildings” which renders the additional spots unnecessary, according to the agenda.   

•    Deny Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC’s application to change rates within the City of Brownwood. Oncor can appeal that decision to the state Public Utility Commission.   

•    Approve a Building Improvement Incentive Program grant to Hamilton’s through the Municipal Development District. The downtown business will use the funds, totaling $4,292.09, to assist with replacing its awnings and repairing its outside trim.   

The meeting ended with a reminder that all city facilities and offices will be closed for the July 4th holiday next Tuesday.