San Angelo Fire Department Inducts Nine New Fire Fighters
The San Angelo Fire Department inducted nine new firefighters into the department in a ceremony steeped in pageantry and tradition Friday night at the West Texas Training Center.
Joining the brotherhood of firemen in San Angelo isn’t a casual job application. The process to create nine new firefighters, dual qualified in both fire rescue and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) began on Jan. 11, 2011, the first day the City of San Angelo accepted applicants.
In all, 151 applied. In April 2012, the civil service exam was taken by 108 of the 151 applicants; 92 passed. On June 4, 2012, a very intrusive autobiographical questionnaire was due. Then, a Texas Department of Public Safety criminal history check, a credit check, and background investigations were conducted. That whittled the applicant pool down to 60. Next, the applicants were given a polygraph test, and 58 were left. By Dec. 5, 2012, only 18 applicants were remaining following oral interviews. Soon, that 18 was whittled down to 13. Those 13 were given job offers pending a positive outcome to a physical exam; 11 emerged.
On Feb 1, 2013, nine started the Fire Academy. Those are the nine who celebrated their graduation with family and friends Friday evening.
By Jan 2, 2014, after 11 months of class and training, this class was ready to prove they were ready. This was the first day of the Texas Certification program for becoming a fireman. On January 25, the EMS certification program began. The Texas Commission of Fire Prevention Exam was given May 6, and all nine passed.
Chief Brian Dunn, head of the fire department, explained that the 14-month course syllabus to become a San Angelo Fireman contains more hours of study than a standard college bachelor’s degree. “We look for the best and the brightest,” he said. “That’s because that’s what it takes to get through our course.”
City Human Resources Director Lisa Marley, who worked with the fire department closely developing their application and recruitment program, explained that the process is meant to find those who are sincerely committed to the profession. It’s not for the casual job seeker, she said.
Of particular note is the fire department’s zero tolerance for drug use. Generally, even experimenting with drugs is enough to disqualify an applicant. A revelation of drug use on the application will activate a matrix of subjective judgments that the SAFD application reviewers must consider to accept or reject the applicant.
All nine will report for regular fire duty June 1 at their newly assigned fire stations.
Edward Cooper, whose wife Margarita pinned the badge on her husband.
Jon Huddleson, whose wife Megan pinned the badge.
Joshua Kemp, whose Father David pinned the badge.
Jaden Lange, whose wife JaNelle pinned the badge.
Matthew Malleck, whose wife Kailee pinned the badge.
Justin Neely, whose wife Leah pinned the badge.
Steven Olsen whose parents Jamie and Paul pinned the badge.
Tyler Orlando , whose father Vick pinned the badge.
Sammy Westerman, whose grandmother Loma James pinned the badge.
After each new fireman was sworn in, and their badge pinned, Chief Brian Dunn handed the new fireman his operational fire helmet.
Following the swearing in, Fire Fighter Santos Elizondo rang the ceremonial fire bell. Chaplain Jay Teague offered the Fireman’s Prayer, and Assistant Chief Vernon Hancock closed the ceremony.
Afterwards, family, friends, and well wishers enjoyed punch and cake. Before the party was over, the first of several weekend torrential downfalls of rain had begun.
Welcome to the San Angelo Fire Department, 13-14 SAFD Rookie Class!
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