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Fire Department welcomes 41st recruit class

The 41st Firefighter Recruit Class: (back row) Owen Tomori, Shane Perry, Dalton Kiko, Christian Cook, Christopher Almodova, Kevin Kapsky, Matthew Case, Catlin Peterson; (front row) Chad Kawazoe, Nathan Lee, Kahlil Dupuis, Tyler Nishimura, Ashley Goddard, Micah Tsue, Laney Azevedo. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii County Fire Department)


The Hawaii Fire Department held commencement exercises for its 41st Firefighter Recruit Class on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo.

The new firefighters 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, 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 fire fighters 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 the training, learning will be a lifelong process in their career. He told them the Fire Department is known for its camaraderie and unity, and he urged the new fire fighters to wear their badges proudly.

Also expressed was the tradition of the Hawaii Fire Department; it provides for the best firefighter/EMS responders and when the a member of the community calls 911, they can be assured that the best in the State of Hawaii will be responding.

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, as they all deserve congratulations on the accomplishment.

Taniguchi emphasized to the recruits that they are about to join the ranks of men and women and 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. 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,” he said. “And while your technical training has prepared you well, please be mindful to always have compassion and empathy for those they serve. 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.”

In closing, Taniguchi told the recruits to always strive to uphold the department’s mission and vision, as well as their own personally defined standards; work hard and put forth your best efforts; never give up; always take care of yourselves, your fellow firefighters, and greater community. Their career choice is one of hard work and dedication with both good and bad.

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 in which Rosario dealt directly with, leading up to the point in which each recruit could understand the value the 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 department’s Emergency Medical Services Bureau, and Training Captain Darwin Okinaka, Recruit Training Officer’s 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; 8 hours CPR, 40 hours first 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.

Wilson saidd, “You are expected to continue your education, perfect your craft, learn by doing, and gain as much experience as possible – but most importantly, pass on everything learned to those who come after so we can perpetuate providing the highest level of service for those who we work for which are our community, our friends, our family, and each other.”

Spain quoted an excerpt from a book called From Buddy to Boss: “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 in our organization; in addition, we don’t make widgets; we serve people. Every action we take is intended to prepare for or actually deliver service to people who may be facing the worse days of their lives.”

Training Officer Darwin Okinaka expressed commitment to service and said the Hawaii Fire Department has the highest trained fire fighters in the state.

He posed this to the new firefighters: “Only you can determine your actions; you will face many crossroads out there; you may have to make a decision that will affect someone’s life, How will you make that decision?”

In closing Okinaka reemphasized to take the job seriously, be humble; be respectful; be professional.

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 also received their station assignments during the ceremony.

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