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Roswell Fire Department welcomes 11 recruits

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Roswell Fire Department’s new recruits take an oath at Station No. 3 on Thursday morning. (Alison Penn Photo)

The Roswell Fire Department (RFD) on Thursday celebrated the graduation of 11 new recruits from the Fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Academy.

Alison Penn Photo
Fire Marshal Matt Miller plays the bagpipes in honor of the firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11 after Chief Tom Graham, of the training division, (not pictured) spoke to the graduates about the risk of being a firefighter on Thursday.

The ‘Recruit Class 34’ firefighter recruits, their families and friends and RFD personnel gathered in the truck room of RFD Station No. 3 at 2800 N. Wilshire Blvd. on Thursday morning. The 11 men graduated from EMS training and the academy after 16 weeks of training. The names of the new firefighters are as follows: Lawrence Boyd, Jordan Barwick, Ray Reta, Coltton Harper, Jarrett Vaz, Jose Munoz, Garrett Floyd, Jonah Burke, Mathew Walsh, Anthony Gamboa and Jeremiah Harris.

The graduation ceremony began with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. Fire Chief Devin Graham, EMS Division Chief Eric Mann, and Training Division Chief Tom Graham congratulated the recruits for their hard work. Tom Graham said the recruits spent “645 hours learning, studying and training together to be firefighters.” Mann said the recruits ran 310 miles and have collectively lost a total of 123 pounds in preparing through physical fitness.

The chiefs shared words of advice on how to be effective firefighters, while representing the RFD and their families who will support them in this career. Barwick, Walsh and Harris received awards for academic and physical fitness excellence. In the oath they took, the new firefighters swore to abide by federal, state and RFD laws and rules and to faithfully serve the city of Roswell in their duties as firefighters.

When they are out on calls, Devin Graham reminded the new recruits that citizens may be “having the worst day of their lives and you are their fixers.”

As a whole, Devin Graham said the department has done well recruiting despite a “mixed bag” of issues surrounding retention. He added the RFD now has 91 uniformed personnel that the 11 recruits will be joining and only five vacancies.

Devin Graham said the recruiting efforts for this class began in March and more recruiting will begin in the new year.

Mann explained that Class 34 was the second class to work on the EMS portion of training before the 16-week fire academy. He added that it was “pretty impressive” to have all recruits move on from the EMS portion to the fire academy. Devin Graham said the department tends to lose recruits in the EMS portion and said offering it first allows recruits to determine if this is the right career for them, since EMS is primary to the job.

Family members and other loved ones pinned badges with their issued numbers on the recruits as part of the ceremony. Tom Graham thanked the recruits’ families and friends for their sacrifice and support in the training process.

“We will not be issuing this number (343) intentionally because we will be commemorating the number at the main fire station,” Tom Graham said. “The reason for this for those who don’t know — number 343 is the number of New York City firefighters who gave their lives on September 11, 2001. This number is a reminder to all firefighters of the danger we may be asked to face and the sacrifice we may be asked to make.”

Devin Graham told the recruits that as firefighters they will spend time away from their families to serve the community; he encouraged them to make the best of their family time.

“Every day I pray for the safety of my firemen,” Devin Graham said. “Every day my wife and I pray for the marriages and the families of this fire department. I used to say thank you to the families of the new recruits for sharing their loved ones with us. I’ve had a perspective change on that however. Now, I say thank you for becoming a part of a big family that serves a much larger purpose.”

Devin Graham said the RFD has a number of goals to fulfill the vision of the RFD, including the primary concern of building a new fire Station No. 2; and in the “infancy stage,” of the RFD taking over ambulance service. A new ladder truck should be delivered later this month, which Devin Graham called a multi-year, $1.1 million project. Replacement of at least one fire engine is also in the works this year.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.