Nine Moffat County residents deserve big thanks and congratulations.
Last week, Craig Fire/Rescue, after months of interviewing and testing candidates, announced it had narrowed its search to nine probationary firefighters.
The nine rookie firefighters remained out of a pool of 29 candidates.
The rookie firefighters, who soon will embark on a yearlong training to become members of the paid-on-call department are: Justin Anthony, Mike Beason, Will Daigle, Tim Felten, David Hahn, Kurtis Kostur, Robert Kincade, Casey McFarland and Krystal Voorhees.
Ahead of them is a year of classroom and hands-on training, which isn't easy to complete. The commitment is physically and emotionally demanding and challenging to schedules.
Firefighters battle blazes at our homes and cars. They respond to emergencies when lives are at stake. They see things most people hope never to. They never know what a call will bring. Emergencies by definition aren't routine.
When full-fledged firefighters, the rookies will risk their lives.
Craig Fire/Rescue is one of the few fire departments in the region without a full-time staff.
No one at the department is doing it for the pay, which ranges from $10 an hour for probationary firefighters to $20 an hour for veterans.
The rookies signed on with the department fully aware they would have to balance family and careers with their commitment to protect the community.
Firefighters risk their lives making calls while covering a 180-square-mile area, spanning from Western Knolls to Routt County and from 15 miles north of Craig past Hamilton. They go far past those boundaries for calls that require their assistance, such as helping extract people trapped in their vehicles and medical emergencies.
Craig Fire/Rescue crews respond to nearly 300 calls a year and average 150 hours of training.
That firefighters with the department are willing to do what they do is a testament to their commitment to the community.
With 29 applicants, the department had its largest recruiting base, as well as its biggest rookie base.
We commend the department for its successful recruiting efforts. And we thank firefighters -- rookies and members of the paid-on-call department --or stepping up and answering the call.