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East Liverpool keeps firefighters close to home

EAST LIVERPOOL–Earlier this month, East Liverpool officials will administer a civil service examination to 19 individuals who want to become an entry level firefighter here.

Just last month, city firefighter Joshua Coil marked a milestone in his life, earning his state certification to become a firefighter less than one year after being hired.

A 2009 graduate of East Liverpool High School, Coil said that it seemed like a fitting job once he returned home from Afghanistan, where he was a member of the United States Marine Reserves assigned to convoy escort duty.

“I was born and raised here in East Liverpool, so I just wanted to give back,” he explained.

After returning in 2011 to his hometown, Coil worked in construction and coached high school wrestling at his alma mater before deciding to take the written test, getting hired and being assigned to the ELFD-ASI unit until he completed the fire academy.

East Liverpool Fire Chief Bill Jones admitted that it was a typical road for a truly exceptional candidate. “(Coil) has a really good work ethic and attitude in addition to being personable. We really are lucky to have him,” he said.

Typically, the city’s Civil Service Commission determines the job description, Jones explains.

According to the test notice, the entry level test is $34,571 annually with benefits. Applicants must be age 18 to 40, have a valid driver’s license, pass health and vision screenings as well as an agility test.

The Civil Service Commission also requires all new hires to either reside within the city, East Liverpool school district, Liverpool Township or in a specified area of St. Clair Township.

Unlike some departments, individuals who are color blind are disqualified from employment on city fire department. When asked about the reasoning behind this, Chief Jones is unsure, saying that is a Civil Service Commission and not a contractual decision. “We do use color coded hose here,” he does note, saying that if officers ask someone to cut water to the blue pressure line that there is a risk that the wrong hose is disabled.

“We have a good group of guys here,” he said. “We have a small department that uses callbacks a lot. We’re more like a tight knit family than co-workers.”

In addition to himself, Jones said the department employes 15 full-time firefighters and utilizes other agencies mostly through training if it isn’t done online for continuing education hours. “We have been really with all of our hires (including Coil),” he reveals.

Coil has no regrets about his decision to become a full-time firefighter. While he fighting blazes and responding to medical calls here in East Liverpool, his twin brother Joe remains in the service as an active duty aviation mechanic. “Every day I am learning nonstop, and I still have a lot to learn,” he concluded.

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