On May 24, Bert Cobb, Hays County judge, officially appointed Clint Browning as head fire marshal for Hays County.
Despite the fact this will be his first term as Fire Marshal, Browning has already served four years in Hays County as Assistant Fire Marshal.
Officially, he found out about the promotion roughly a month ago, Browning said. His qualifications include thirty years of fire service, extensive emergency service training in fire investigation, fire suppression and administrative management experience in law enforcement.
“I’ve been doing this kind of job for a long time,” Browning said.
On paper, Browning is now in charge of four reserves of part-time deputies, to be dispatched at his command. He will also officially assume responsibility for all records, evidence and office administration functions in the county. He will likewise report to Commissioners Court, handle burn ban questions and community concerns regarding fire safety and oversee all investigations in the county and the development of new policies.
“Unofficially, I’ve been doing most of those things the whole time,” Browning said.
Browning wasted little time acclimating to his new position, and says he is looking forward to a particular project.
“What I’m trying to get together is a fire setting prevention program,” Browning said. “So that’ll be my big project for the next year.”
Use fire setter is a certification program that will focus on prevention and intervention, he said.
“Essentially, without anything in place, anybody under the age of 17 who starts a fire has two options: they don’t go to a juvenile detention center, or they do,” Browning said. “Traditionally, without any education, the problem just gets worse. No follow up is done. The goal of this program will be trying to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system or to intervene before it gets to that point.”
Club leaders, parents and school officials are among some of the authority figures with the power to recommend a minor to the program, Browning said.
“If these kids get caught in criminal situations, we need to have a way to educate and evaluate them, so that we can find a proper outlet to correct their behavior,” Browning said.
The program was Browning’s original idea, but needs state certification in order to get off the ground. Browning recently succeeded in obtaining the certification from the State Fire Marshal’s office, a body which teaches law enforcement and fire investigation courses throughout the state.
“The program is minimally instated now, but we’re hoping to get it fully spearheaded soon,” Browning said. “I had to complete program director training and I am currently in the process of developing oversight functions, as well as creating a board to oversee all actions the program might take in the future.”
The estimate is the program could be fully functional within six months, Browning said.
“There has been a nationwide increase in the reporting of juvenile-related fires,” Browning said. “The problem has always been there and it’s been ignored (and) kicked to the wayside for too long.”