After five long months of classes and drills, eight fire department recruits traded in their green and white braided training ropes for bright yellow firefighter helmets.
“By receiving their yellow helmets, it means that they’re full-fledged fire fighters,” Capital City Fire and Rescue Fire Training Officer Nathan Young said. “They can go on and provide all the services that we provide.”
Barking in unison, “Readiness, dedication, service,” the graduates of Fire Academy Class No. 12-20 retired their ropes and their guidon, shook hands with officers and were dismissed for the last time.
Badges in hand, the eight became volunteer firefighters. It was not an easy task, not all made it, nor did it happen without “blood, sweat and tears,” said Fire Marshal Daniel Jager.
The recruits were required to complete 264 hours of formal instruction.
“That’s outside of their duty nights, their drills, their studies, their study groups, and their families, of course,” Young added. “So it’s a huge load, and that’s why we want to have a formal time to acknowledge them.”
The group finished their last written exams on Saturday, administered by an official with the Alaska Fire Standards Council. They receive their results next week.
Once they receive those results they are officially recognized by the state as qualified firefighters, Young said.
On Monday evening, CCFR hosted a graduation ceremony in their honor at Glacier Fire Station No. 3 near the airport.
The two squads of four placed each of their designated fire hose appliances — one red and one blue — on a table, out of reach for the last time.
During the academy, the hose appliance cannot be out of the physical touch of one of the squad members. If it’s set down or lost, the squad has to do some sort of activity or project to get it back.
“It’s teaching them accountability to each other, and they know where their tools and equipment are,” Young said. “It’s at the very basic fundamentals of how we want them to operate — the responsibility to their company, to each other, to their equipment. That’s going to provide good service to our customers and keep them safe and out of trouble.”
The recruits were also allowed to retire the ropes they wore around their waists for the past five months, a traditional part of the recruit uniform. Recruits wear the ropes to practice knots during lunch breaks and other off hours since they are required to tie eight knots behind their back with their eyes closed by the end of the academy. They are the Figure 8, Figure 8 Follow Through, Figure 8 On A Bight, Handheld Knot, Bowline, Clove Hitch, Overhand Knot and Water Knot.
“These are ones that we use all the time on our fire fighting operations to hoist tools, to secure things, things like that,” Young said.
Division Chief Beth Weldon swore in the new volunteers to the department after Captain Todd Cameron gave a commencement address.
Two recruits this year were chosen by their peers as the Recruit of the Academy for their outstanding performance: Jesse Echave and Nick Marthaller.
The highest grade point average of the class — 92.9 percent — went to Recruit Mattheus Tempel, who was recognized for outstanding academic performance.
The graduating class members are Michael Sharp, James Andersen, Andrew Wheeler, Jesse Echave, Mattheus Tempel, Sean Grant, Kenneth Moriarty and Nick Marthaller.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.