RED OAK — The Red Oak Fire Department has received certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards certifying the fire marshals office as an independent law enforcement agency.

“The police department was gracious enough to allow our folks to be carried under their department. We just switched so that we could have a little bit more control over own program and people,” Fire Chief Eric Thompson said. “Our Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell’s primary responsibility is to enforce the fire code, conduct fire investigations, do preplan updates and communicate that stuff with the guys that ride the trucks so that they are prepared to make the emergency response.”

Thompson said the new certification would allow the department to start carrying out and conduction investigations on their own. They will also be able to issue citations and obtain warrants.

Birdwell who holds a certification as a law enforcement officer will be receiving some additional help from Lance Wilkinson. Wilkinson, a driver/engineer with the department, holds certifications as a peace officer and fire investigator. He will be assisting Birdwell with the increased workload on his days off.

“We also have some part time funds where we will have someone (else) come in and help,” Thompson said. “We will have three people working in there. Tim, Lance and a part time person to help support those efforts.”

Thompson said the additional staff in that department would help even out the workload because when new developments come in, multiple inspections have to be completed. Inspections have to be done on sprinkler systems and fire pump tests have to be completed.  

Along with the additional personnel the fire marshal’s office is going to be renamed the Life Safety Division. The new name will reflect the additional responsibilities the division will have in the areas of public education and emergency management. The department will also keep the public informed about what is taking place at the Red Oak Fire Department.  

“Emergency management is very big in today’s emergency services. We have our own emergency management plan for the city. It is all about being prepared and providing a risk assessment,” Thompson said. “It allows us to be prepared for whatever the emergency is whether it is a natural disaster, HAZMAT situation, large fire or wild fire.”

For more information about the Red Oak Fire Department, go to www.redoakfirerescue.com or call 469-218-7713

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.