New Bethel firefighters graduate

Class of 1701 graduates: Top row from left are Chief Bill Howell, and graduates John Kameroff, Monroe Tyler, Shadi Rabi, Captain Solesbee. Bottom row from left: Jesse Gefroh, Matthew Cochrane, Steven Burnett, and Alexander Stowell. In back are Instructors/FF/EMTs Kyle Inman and Thomas Haviland. Not in photo is graduate Frederick "Buzzy" Wheeler. Photo by Kelly Lincoln

by K.J. Lincoln

Eight new firefighters graduated and were honored at a commencement ceremony last Friday at the Bethel Fire Department.

The Class of 1701 graduates are Steven “Tucker” Burnett, Matthew Cochrane, Jesse Gefroh, John Kameroff, Shadi Rabi, Alexander “Zandy” Stowell, Monroe Tyler, and Frederick “Buzzy” Wheeler.

To graduate, the trainees dedicated approximately 300 hours over the past four months to learn how to save lives and property from the devastating effects of fire. The many topics they completed training in are: fire behavior and chemistry, fire service structure, incident command system, communications, personal protective equipment (Turnouts and SCBA), ropes and knots, fire fighter safety and survival, fire ground search and rescue, forcible entry, public fire prevention and life safety education, fire detection and alarm systems, fire hose, fire control, fire extinguishers, fire suppression, ventilation, ground fire suppression, ladder placement and use, fire fighting tools and equipment, water supply, salvage and overhaul, and hazardous materials awareness and operations.

Matthew Cochrane also graduated as an ETT and Shadi Rabi as an EMT.

Fire Captain Daron Solesbee who also served as the lead instructor for the class gave the opening welcome. Other speakers included Fire Chief Bill Howell and firefighter/EMT and Vice Mayor Fred Watson.

“It is a worthwhile endeavor. Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” said Chief Howell. He commended the firefighters who made it their lifework to serve the community including Kevin Murphy for his 50 years of service, Casey Burke for 25 years, and Anne Kosacheff and Leif Albertson for their many years – and praised them as the backbone of their fire department.

“Your time and commitment is a testament to man and God. Thank you,” he said.

To the new firefighters he gave this advice, “You need to say yes when you’re tired, cold and wet. To say yes to more training and to tremendous sacrifice – including the ultimate sacrifice that we must face. You have to say no to quitting and apathy and to pettiness. No to the excessive use of alcohol and drugs. You are your brothers’ keeper. You are good men and I know you will do good in our community. We are proud of you and we are happy that you are here.”

Chief Howell had the honor of pinning each graduate. He thanked Matthew Cochrane and Captain Solesbee for the slideshow that was shown during the ceremony.

“This the first bush fire department to become accredited,” he said. “This is also the biggest firefighter class and one of the finest we’ve ever seen.”

After the pinning, Firefighter Burnett gave a few words of appreciation to their instructors for taking the time to teach them and for giving up their weekends for their class.

“This was a very positive class. It’s a tough job, lots of training,” said Captain Solesbee. “Thanks for sticking through the class. You will be respected for saving your buddies life or the lives of those out in the community.”

The ceremony concluded with photos and a potluck celebration.