The Hawaii Fire Department hosted commencement exercises for its 42nd Firefighter Recruit Class on April 12 at the Courtyard Marriot King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.
The new firefighters are Kyle Muin, Chad Rapozo, Michael Masuda, Monalisa Durkan, Dave Yamagata Jr., Tai Scarbrough, Riley Archibald, Kristopher Armijo, Neil Cho, Adam Tabieros, Alan McShane Jr., Kala Haasenritter, and Joseph Glory Jr.
The class underwent 12 months of intensive instruction/classroom exercises and fieldwork. These included fire and rescue training that included a nationally recognized fire science curriculum, wildland fire training, rescue operations familiarization, aquatics competency certification and driver training.
The ending of their firefighter recruit training was spent at the Emergency Medical Services Training Center, where the firefighters earned their Emergency Medical Technicians Basic certification.
The entire EMT program was approximately 9-10 weeks long, and they also spent about four weeks on clinical rotations through Central, Kawailani, Keaau, Pahoa, Kailua, and Keauhou Fire Stations on the ambulance, as well as at the emergency room, obstetrics and intensive care units at Hilo Medical Center and Kona Hospital.
At the afternoon ceremonies, guest speaker Mayor Billy Kenoi focused his speech on the great accomplishment of each person thus far and how graduation means the beginning of a whole new chapter in the new firefighters’ careers with the Hawaii Fire Department.
Public Safety is the No. 1 priority, and along with that comes hard work, compassion, continuous training and trust within oneself as well as among their fellow firefighters. In closing, a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson was shared — “What lies behind us and what lies in before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Recruit Training Officers Fire Rescue Specialist James Wilson and Fire Equipment Operator Mark Spain spoke of the Hawaii Fire Department’s core values, as well as stated the duty of a firefighter is a great honor and privilege that should be earned, not given out as a liberty.
An excerpt from a book, “From Buddy to Boss,” was shared: “The fire service is a people game: Win people-win the game; lose people-lose the game. We live, eat, train, respond and even die with people of our organization. Every action we take is intended to prepare for or actually deliver service to people who may be facing the worst days of their lives.”
Ultimately, the main focus stated was never forget one’s roots, stay humble and be dedicated to serve with pride, honor and compassion.
Recruit Training Officer Capt. Darwin Okinaka also spoke of and reiterated the Hawaii Fire Department’s core values.
He reminded each recruit about character, actions, decision making and ultimately being responsible in taking the job of a firefighter seriously.
He told the recruites to take the time to reflect on the skills they learned and embrace them.
The countless speeches instilled the values and vision statement of the department. In closing, Okinaka reminded the new recruits and those in attendance “we are public safety, we provide public safety and we keep our community safe.”
It was evident from Fire Chief Darren Rosario remarks each of the recruits was trained with the highest quality of instruction and by a staff who once stood in the recruits’ footsteps. He also spoke of HFD’s core values and vision statement, and emphasized the importance of public safety.
The chief expressed how proud he was of the recruits’ work ethics they showed throughout the training process, and there is no doubt in his mind when the public calls 911, those new firefighters will stand right beside their fellow firefighters and provide the best service.
The 42nd firefighter class message was delivered by class president Neil Cho.
He stated his appreciation for his fellow classmates, his family and his trainers. Cho also addressed the fact the entire training process was one of the hardest obstacles he ever endured, and reiterated the value of training and again expressed his appreciation for all those involved with training from start to finish.
Each of the speakers also addressed the families and friends in the audience whose support and understanding helped bring the class through the rigorous physical and academic training demands.
Having successfully met all criteria of their recruit training, the 42nd firefighter class was presented to Rosario, who issued them the graduates badges. As is customary in fire service, the firefighters then chose a family member or friend to pin their badge on their uniform.
The new firefighters also received their first station assignments at Central, Honokaa, South Kohala, Kailua, Keauhou, North Kohala, Kawailani, Pahoa and Captain Cook fire stations.