During this week’s Big Bear City Community Services District meeting, the fire department took center stage as they were honored for having achieved the Firewise Communities/USA distinction. But this was not the only agenda item that pertained to the Big Bear City Fire Department at the meeting of March 16. The CSD Board of Directors also reviewed, and unanimously approved, a proposal from Fire Chief Jeff Willis, that would allow for the introduction of an Apprentice Firefighter Program, which will augment the department’s paid-call firefighters. Given the hourly limitations for PCFs, the just-created apprentice position will allow for 24-hour shifts, during which time apprentice firefighters will work alongside full-time firefighters. “We are not up-staffing,” Chief Willis pointed out. “It’s a win-win. It is a lower cost for the department, but allows apprentice firefighters to do shift work so they can further their education.” Apprentice firefighters in the three-year program will likely come from the Bear City Fire Department’s PCF force; those who complete the program are not assured of full-time employment, though Willis notes that there will be, going forward, a continuous list of qualified individuals ready to fill the firefighter/paramedic position when there is a vacancy.