Firefighter academy recruits were “pinned” in a ceremony last week. wphoto provided
Firefighter academy recruits were “pinned” in a ceremony last week. wphoto provided
The annual Firefighter Recruit Academy is a long-standing tradition with the Sisters-Camp Sherman and Black Butte Ranch rural protection fire districts. Each year a number of applicants across all the Central Oregon fire districts are screened and chosen to begin their learning of firefighting and emergency service at local stations. Sisters-Camp Sherman and Black Butte Ranch fire districts graduated nine recruits with a badge-pinning ceremony at the Sisters Fire Hall last Friday.

During the summer weeks of training, the recruits live in the stations with the career staff. The academy began in June, and when it concluded in September with a written test and task performance evaluation, the students had concluded nearly 240 hours of instruction. They spent time in a classroom, completed self-study and had hands-on training in the essentials of firefighting.

The living arrangement continues past the pinning ceremony as the recruits begin attending classes this fall at Central Oregon Community College’s Fire and EMS program. The resident volunteers will continue to serve the greater Sisters area as firefighters, EMTs and emergency-vehicle drivers.

In opening remarks at the ceremony, Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD Chief Roger Johnson reflected on the changes that occurred during his 30-some years in the fire service. He noted to the recruits that things will continue to change as their careers evolve, and they must be adaptable.

Most importantly he reminded them, “We are here to serve the community.”

Black Butte Ranch RFPD Deputy Chief Dave Phillips informed the audience of the structure of the academy. June was full, with the recruits learning about medical calls and wildland fires and OSHA mandatory compliance requirements. They also learned how to drive fire department vehicles. The tourist season of July and August saw them sticking close to their assigned departments to see what goes on in the district during the busy season. When the tourists left, it was back to learning about vehicle extraction and the details of structural firefighting.

The next step is formal classes at COCC. Deputy Chief Phillips encouraged the recruits to use and practice the values of their fire districts, those of integrity, professionalism, competence, and compassion.

“We look forward to celebrating you at the end of your journey,” he said.

Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD Deputy Chief Tim Craig spoke of the varied backgrounds of the recruits. Some are legacy recruits, inspired by the service of family and friends. Some have backgrounds in wildland firefighting and the Forest Service. And some are pulled from somewhere deep inside themselves to do this important job.

Each recruit had invited a special person to pin the badge onto their uniform. Mothers, fathers, step-parents and mentors enjoyed the moment and privilege of conveying the honor to their loved one.

Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD welcomes Tyson Gradwahl, Israel Pintor, Emily Spognardi, Samuel Triplett and Rachel Ulm to their station.

Black Butte Ranch RFPD welcomes Austin Cornett, Joshua Gintu, Jordan Humphries and Benjamin White.