Craig Fire/Rescue welcomes new recruits

In the face of declining interest in firefighting positions, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said he was happy to have three new recruits.

But, the problem, he said, is just that — the number is only three.

“I am disappointed that not more probationary firefighters were hired and can go through the academy,” he said.

Johnston said Craig Fire/Rescue is allowed to have 35 firefighters, but currently only has 28, including himself.

The lack of qualified applicants stepping forward, Johnston said, is placing a strain on other firefighters.

The problem, he thinks, may be deeply rooted.

“It is a true second job,” he said. “It is a part-time job and nowadays (this) generation and others are not interested in having two jobs. They’re only interested in one job then recreating, whereas 30 years ago, not only was it not a second job, it was volunteer.”

All things considered, however, Johnston said he is glad to welcome three new potential firefighters to the department.

The new recruits are Steve Johnson, Matthew Walker and Lucas Rummel.

The three new hires must complete a probationary period of one year while they receive various certifications needed to be a firefighter with the department. That year of training begins Saturday with an orientation at the fire station.

Craig Fire/Rescue Battalion Chief K.C. Hume said there is quite a lot to learn in the first year of training to be a firefighter.

“Not only are they tasked with the completion of their rookie year (and) their fire academy, they are also tasked with the completion of all the regularly scheduled trainings and requirements of the department,” he said. “They are, in essence, pulling double duty from fire department perspective.”

But, Hume said, it can also be an exciting time for new firefighters.

“I made three incredibly good friends during that time,” he said. “My class was a class of four and it was a very memorable time.”

Johnston encouraged those interested in becoming a firefighter to apply through the website at www.craigfirerescue.org, call 824-5914 or stop by the department at 419 Yampa Ave.

Meet the recruits

The new Craig Fire/Rescue recruits are:

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Steve Johnson

Name: Steve Johnson

Age: 48

Occupation: Truck driver for Western Petroleum, co-owner of Technical Support Services

Background: Raised in Colorado Springs, and has lived in Craig since August

Why serve: “I just got my EMT reinstated and the chief lived across the street from me and was like, ‘You need to go down and put your papers in.’ It is a specialized area and not everyone can do it. I think they have an excellent department here and they have got great equipment … and an excellent training program. It is going to be interesting and a lot of fun to work with them.”

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Matthew Walker

Name: Matthew Walker

Age: 31

Occupation: Account manager for Airgas

Background: Raised in Sun City, Calif., and lived in Craig for two years

Why serve: “I look at it as having an opportunity to help the community in some way. It is something that I have always wanted to do — just about everybody has wanted to be a firefighter or a police officer or something since they were a kid. So, I had an opportunity and my schedule has been able to open up a little bit with finishing school and a couple other things so I might as well fill it back up.”

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Lucas Rummel

Name: Lucas Rummel

Age: 20

Occupation: Coal miner for Twentymile Coal Co.

Background: Born and raised in Craig

Why serve: “I have always wanted to do something like that. I am going to hopefully get on the mine rescue team, as well. I just think it is a great thing to do. I don’t want to live my whole life going to work and coming home.”

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