Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS graduation ceremony

Roanoke Valley Regional Fire-EMS Graduating Class July 8, 2011

It was raining and the wind had two firefighters in extended arched buckets struggling to calm the large American flag tethered in-between. It served as the gateway to Friday afternoon’s fourteenth academy graduation ceremony at the Roanoke Civic Center Performing Arts Theater.

Each of the twenty graduates received a small but sturdy length of rope that Training Officer Tim Craighead called, “a link to the family, a link to your classmates and a link to me.” Four graduates from the academy were from Roanoke County and sixteen were destined for Roanoke City fire stations.

Class takes the firefighter oath.

The graduates spend 896 hours at the academy the received a myriad of certifications. The bottom line being that “teamwork is essential for our safety,” said Lt. Tom Gherman. Charles Layman was selected by the team as their class president. “The class president serves as a liaison between the academy staff and the class,” said Gherman.

Chief Hoback told the assembled graduates that their lives have changed forever after completing the sixteen-week academy. “This job is not like any other job. You’ve now crossed into the profession of public service and public safety,” said Hoback to the class. Some were starting work the following day.

Roanoke County Chief Richard Burch told the class, “when someone calls 911 they are not having a good day.” He told them they were performing a customer service roll except the customer has no other options. “They pick you when they call 911”, he said. He told them for that reason they always have to give 100 percent on the job.

Roanoke City Chief David Hoback in a brief interview following the ceremony said none of the new graduates knew where they would be assigned until Friday’s ceremony. He said, “only four people knew where they would be stationed – it was a secret until today.”

Roanoke City has been short staffed. Hoback praised city manager, Chris Morrill for allowing him to recruit over and above the usual number of recruits. “It takes a year for a recruit to get up to speed,” said Hoback. Council had noted in financial reports that the fire department was over budget due to excessive overtime.

Denise Teehan receives the leadership award.

According to Hoback the new graduates will not only plug the vacancies but will create an overstaff situation to forestall any unforeseen injuries, health issues, retirements or resignations.

Academy awards went to Nicolas Schmitt for physical fitness and Nathan Joachim for academics. The daughters of deceased Captain Chris Brown presented the character award in memory of their father to Randolph Armbrister.

The leadership award went to Denise Teehan of Roanoke County the only woman in the class. Teehan was a police officer in Chesapeake before moving to Roanoke. She said she had always wanted to serve in public safety and this was her way of pursing her goal. 

Other graduates in the city included Matthew Furrow, Peter Matthiessen, David McKinney Matthew Moomey, Andrew Murray, Frederick Murray, Rashad Myers, Aaron Parker, Jacob Parry, James Richards, Shawn Sloane, Keith Snead, Thesalomius Washington and Andrew Watkins. The county included Kelly Stoots.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Local Events

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