St. George Fire welcomes class of 2018 – 7 recruits become firefighters

St. George Fire Department reserves are sworn in Friday after completing academy and certification, St. George, Utah, March 9, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Fire Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Seven new reserves were sworn in Friday, and joined the ranks of more than 100 St. George firefighters after graduating from the academy and completing all certification requirements.

The latest group of St. George Fire recruits include firefighters John Brimley, Francisco Cedeno, Tyler Guymon, Dusty Humphries, Rex Jones, Nicholas Peterson and Ryan Zabriskie.

Group photo of St. George Fire Department personnel during swearing-in ceremony for St. George Fire Department reserves Friday, St. George, Utah, March 9, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Fire Department, St. George News

“Friday was an opportunity to recognize their accomplishments, what they’ve done and the sacrifice they’ve made to complete the training and testing,” fire Battalion Chief Robert Hooper said.

“This year the recruits spent about 19 weeks in the academy,” Hooper said.

It was also a moment to recognize Nicholas Peterson as the academy’s “Most Outstanding Recruit,” presenting him with a plaque for being the top performer in the group this year.

While the 19 weeks of academy training and months of certification is a significant commitment, and requires a certain level of sacrifice, Hooper said, the sacrifice doesn’t end there.

“Honestly it’s also a time to recognize the family members who sacrificed as well,” Hooper said, “because many of these guys went straight from their job to training, and then were gone all day on Saturdays – so that was all time away from their family.”

The reserve firefighters trained at the St. George Firefighter Recruit Academy for more than four months, attending classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in addition to full-day training classes every other Saturday.

Nicholas Peterson is presented “Most Outstanding Recruit” award during swearing-in ceremony for St. George Fire Department reserves Friday, St. George, Utah, March 9, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the St. George Fire Department, St. George News

The academy is a mix of class work with hands-on training and some physical training and teaches firefighting techniques that are specific to the local geographical area.

The training is designed to ensure that all firefighters are at the same level of expertise when starting at the St. George Fire Department.

Additionally, there are benchmarks along the way that the reserve candidates must meet in order to graduate.

Once they complete the academy, the new recruits then go through the two-to-three-month testing process to obtain the four required certifications. These include firefighter levels 1 and 2, hazardous materials awareness and operations and  CPR/automated external defibrillator certifications.

Certification is directed toward general firefighting operations, vehicle extrication, hazardous materials, forcible entry, ventilation and many others, Hooper said.

The St. George Fire Department typically holds a recruit academy once a year in order to maintain reserve staff numbers, and the city’s sustained growth means continual recruitment in order to meet expanding needs.

While the recruits enter the academy with the expectation of becoming reserve firefighters, Hooper said, after graduation they can “elect to put in for part-time if they choose, but when they originally apply they are applying for the reserve position.”

For those who do make it, they became state-certified firefighters and join the Fire Department’s reserve ranks. Reserves are not paid positions, but the firefighters and their families receive insurance through the position, Hooper said.

Reserve firefighters are assigned to the station nearest their home and are required to carry pagers, allowing them to respond to calls as needed, and are also on a rotating schedule.

Over time, some of the reserve firefighters get hired on as part-time or full-time staff; others remain as reserve firefighters.

Should a reserve elect to become a full-time firefighter, or career fighter, Hooper said, they must complete EMT training and certification before they can apply for those positions.

The seven new reserve firefighters are now ready to go out and participate in the estimated 6,000 calls St. George Fire Department responds to each year.

The newest members join 33 full-time, nine part-time and 70 reserve staff that work out of eight fire stations. Together they serve St. George’s 80,000 residents in an area of more than 75 square miles.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.



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