The Hawaii Fire Department held commencement exercises for its 41st Fire Fighter Recruit Class on Saturday, May 18, at the Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo.
The new Fire Fighters are: Owen Tomori, Shane Perry, Dalton Kiko, Christian Cook, Christopher Almodova, Kevin Kapsky, Matthew Case, Catlin Peterson, Chad Kawazoe, Nathan Lee, Kahlil Dupuis, Tyler Nishimura, Ashley Goddard, Micah Tsue and Laney Azevedo.
The class underwent months of intensive instruction and fieldwork. Training involved fire and rescue training that included a nationally recognized fire science curriculum, wildland fire training, hazardous materials operations training, rescue operations familiarization, lifeguard certification, and driver training.
The remainder of their training was spent at the Emergency Medical Services Training Center where the firefighters earned their Emergency Medical Technicians Basic certifications. They also applied their emergency medical technician skills on clinical rotations through Central, Kawailani, and Keaau fire stations on the ambulance, as well as at the Emergency Room, Obstetrics, and Intensive Care Units at Hilo Medical Center.
Mayor Billy Kenoi addressed the recruits by telling them that although they have persevered in training, learning will be a lifelong process in their career. He told them that the Fire Department is known for its camaraderie and unity, and he urged the new firefighters to wear their badges proudly.
Fire Commissioner Toby Taniguchi conveyed his appreciation to the recruits for affording the opportunity to witness and be a part of this special ceremony. “Our presence there was testament to the tremendous amount of persistence and determination exhibited by themselves and supporters,” he said.
On behalf of the commission and commissioners, he extended congratulations to the recruits, their families and the department’s educators/trainers on achieving this important milestone.
Taniguchi emphasized to the recruits that they are about to join the ranks of men and women and a department steeped in a tradition of service and honor.
“The commission wants the recruits to know that the public puts a tremendous amount of faith and trust in the work they have endeavored to undertake and because of that, we ask each of them to do everything in their power to always honor the public’s trust,” he said.
“When you receive your assignments, and with well over 20,000 emergency calls a year, there is a high probability you will hit the ground running. And while your technical training has prepared you well, please be mindful to always have compassion and empathy for those you serve,” said Taniguchi. “They will come across individuals, whom for some, will be the worst time of their lives, that they always treat these individuals with compassion and empathy.”
Fire Chief Darren Rosario thanked the instructors and trainers, peers and firefighters who will continue to work with the recruits to refine their skills, and most importantly, the families. Emphasis was on the meaning of integrity: doing what’s right even when no one is looking. Real-life experiences were mentioned in short stories which Rosario had dealt directly with, leading up to the point at which each recruit could understand the value the Hawaii Fire Department’s core values – integrity; pride; commitment to service; safety; and teamwork. He closed his speech in expressing to the recruits that they will soon start their journey working with Hawaii’s finest employees.
Battalion Chief Lance Uchida of the Hawaii Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services Bureau, and Training Capt. Darwin Okinaka, Recruit Training Officers Fire Equipment Operator Mark Spain and Fire Rescue Specialist James Wilson also spoke at the luncheon ceremony. All speakers acknowledged the audience — the recruits’ families and friends — for their support throughout the training.
Uchida spoke about the levels of training; eight hours of CPR, 40 hours of 1st responder and then up to EMT. Also emphasized was the fact that although they have a good foundation, in order to be a professional, they need to focus and train, train, and train. He also encouraged each recruit to continue in EMS as MICT. Both Spain and Wilson emphasized HFD’s core values; FRS Wilson stated, “You are expected to continue your education, perfect your craft, learn by doing, and gain as much experience as possible.”
The 41st Fire Fighter Class message was delivered by Matthew Case, who told the audience that their training was not always a smooth road. He thanked his family, his instructors, and his peers. He expressed the importance of training received and taking what was learned to a whole new level; and the gratitude of being trained with the men he stood beside the past months.
Having successfully met all the criteria of their recruit training, the 41st Fire Fighter Class was presented to Rosario, who issued them their 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 received their station assignments.