“Ladies and gentlemen, your 13 newest firefighters in the State of Alabama.”
Orange Beach Fire Rescue Asst. Chief Kevin Lanford wrapped up the Firefighter I/II Recruit School Graduation Ceremony with those words on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at the Orange Beach Event Center.
The 13 graduates completed nine weeks of firefighter training at the Alabama Fire College Regional Training Center at Orange Beach Fire Station No. 1. The men represented departments in Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, Spanish Fort and Prichard.
The state's newest firefighters are:
- Kenneth Andrews - Prichard Fire Department
- James Beck - Orange Beach Fire Rescue (Director’s Award for Academic Excellence)
- Jeffrey Berg - Prichard Fire Department
- Javaris Brown - Prichard Fire Department
- David Eckman - Gulf Shores Fire Rescue
- Lucas Howton - Orange Beach Fire Rescue
- Zachary Maholovich - Prichard Fire Department
- Erik Mason - Orange Beach Fire Rescue
- Joseph McCleish - Spanish Fort Fire Department
- Jordan Russell - Orange Beach Fire Rescue
- Aaron Saenz - Orange Beach Fire Rescue (Leadership Award)
- Roger Strick - Orange Beach Fire Rescue
- Jacob Van Blake - Spanish Fort Fire Department
Foley firefighter Carter Chmielewski was the guest speaker. Chmielewski graduated from the first Recruit School held in Orange Beach in 2014.
“I believe that you’ve been called into this profession,” Chmielewski said to the soon-to-be graduates in front of him. “When I was sitting there five and a half years ago I didn’t think that I was called to be a firefighter. I just thought it was something that I wanted to do but the more I do this each and every day I realize it’s the only thing I could ever do because I want to serve people. And I believe that each and every one of you have been called to this profession as well.”
Chmielewski said he was glad to see how far the resident program in Orange Beach has come in training firefighters who are now serving across the state. He said it builds a foundation for firefighting education that never ends.
“I challenge you to keep on learning,” Chmielewski said.
Javaris Brown from the Prichard Fire Department spoke on behalf of Recruit School Class 19-01.
Brown said he and his classmates had good days and bad days but were ultimately successful because of each other.
“We worked hard together as a team and pushed through,” he said. “‘Pride, Honor and Integrity’ that is the motto of Orange Beach Fire Rescue. With these words we will go out and serve our communities.”
Following the badge pinning and certificate presentation led by Orange Beach Fire Rescue Training Lieutenant Jeremy White, Foley Fire Chief and Chairman of the Alabama Fire College Personnel Standards Commission Joey Darby congratulated the new firefighters on a job well done and administered the Firefighter Oath.
"I do solemnly swear
That I will support and defend
The Constitution of the United States
And the Constitution of the State of Alabama;
That I will faithfully and diligently
Serve my community;
And that I will execute my responsibilities
As a firefighter
To the best of my ability.
To this I pledge my sacred honor,
So help me God."