Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308
Friday, July 17, 2020 at 12:07 p.m.
When it comes to saving lives and property, location is the key to a quick response.
That’s why the Spokane Fire Department has 18 stations spread throughout the city, and courier Clayton Jacks will visit every one of them before the day is out.
“We have equipment, mail and other things I’m responsible for carrying in and deliver to each station and make sure they get it,” explained Jacks.
One of Jacks’ first stops is at Fire station 1 where he loads up freshly charged air tanks he’ll use to replace empty ones at fire stations around the city.
Jacks does the same thing with the oxygen paramedics give to their patients.
Jacks makes his cross-town deliveries so firefighters and their trucks can stay close to the neighborhoods they’re assigned to protect.
“I’m actually pretty proud of that. Helping and delivering and ensuring the safety of the city and community, it’s a great task to do,” Jacks said.
But, it’s a task made more difficult by Jacks’ autism. The fire department hired Jacks though the City of Spokane’s Supported Employment Program.
“Supported employment was a way for us to fulfill our responsibility to the community making sure there are opportunities for people of all skill sets, in all places in life,” said Amber Richards, Director of the City of Spokane Human Resources Department.
The Supported Employment Program opens doors and removes barriers for disabled people seeking employment.
When Jacks isn’t doing his deliveries, he works at the Fire Training center as a quartermaster, fulfilling orders for supplies, like uniforms.
“This occupation basically destroys their clothing very quickly… more than most people would think,” Jacks said with a sly smile.
“He’s super positive, he’s got a great sense of humor,” said Amanda Winchell, the office manager who hired Jacks.
As part of the Supported Employment Program, a job coach prepared Jacks for his new duties.
“That’s a huge incentive for the employers because we are there to help assist with the training and orientation and making that employee transition into their environment,” emphasized Troy Marshall, an Ability Employment Services job coach.
It’s an environment where time is the enemy. Yet Jacks has no trouble keeping firefighters outfitted with the equipment and medical supplies they need to protect the public.
“Once the opportunity is given, you’re going to find that these are going to be the most loyal, most dependable, most honorable people that you’ll ever employ. To see Clayton get the opportunity here at the fire department is just outstanding,” Marshall said proudly.
The Supported Employment Program has 18 different job classifications in order to match a person’s capabilities with just the right position.
Jacks is the City’s first permanent hire and now he hopes other special needs workers will follow in his footsteps.
“We look forward to keeping him on board because he’s able to do the job and he’s able to do the job really well,” added Winchell.
For more information on the City of Spokane’s Supported Employment program visit https://my.spokanecity.org/jobs/supported-employment/.