Rookies join the ranks

Craig Fire/Rescue hires three, promotes three

— Some newbies were brought on board, some old newbies were promoted and the Craig Rural Fire Protection District enters 2008 with a few changes.

Ryan Hampton, Al Landa and Charlie Gotschall were promoted from rookies to state-certified firefighter 1 status, clearing the way for them to perform nearly any task required of them, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said.

The three men were promoted at the Fire Board meeting Thursday.

"They've completed all their required training," Johnston said. "They passed a written and practical exam, and they've performed all their duties well."

Three new rookies, Matt Beckett, Kyle Sena and Scott Tuning, joined the ranks at Thursday's meeting, and they have a long year ahead of them, Johnston said.

"There is constant training for a full year," he said. "I think about 250 hours in that first year. They'll respond to calls. They won't have any lights or sirens."

A rookie's duties at a fire scene or on another call are limited to his or her training level, Johnston said.

Eventually, if everything goes well, they'll be promoted to firefighter 1 status next December.

The three were chosen out of a field of six, Johnston said. Attitude was a major factor in the hires.

"There's many, many, many things" that led to those hires, Johnston said. "We're just looking for people that understand the time commitment and will be there for all those hours we need them to be there."

Promotions and new hires take effect Jan. 1.

The Fire Board decided not to instate a deputy chief, the position Johnston held before former chief Chris Nichols retired Nov. 30.

"We're trying to be more efficient," Johnston said. "We're trying to be more effective with less top-sided leadership and empower the people here all the way down to the very bottom."

Not everything at the Fire Board meeting was positive news, however.

The Fire Department's wait for a new Ladder 1 truck will be delayed from August 2008 until December 2008, Johnston said.

The truck will be equipped with a 100-feet ladder with a rotating platform on top.

Metz, the German manufacturer chosen to supply the truck, will take longer to build one that complies with National Fire Protection Association regulations, Johnston said.

"This is the first one in America, and there are two ahead of us going to Canada," Johnston said. "They're all over Europe. North America has different rules and guidelines for fire trucks, and they have to incorporate those for American trucks."

The guidelines Johnston referred to, which include prohibiting firefighters from riding on the outside of the truck, all are geared toward firefighter safety, he said.

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