The Villages Public Safety Department welcomed aboard eight new firefighters on Thursday in a pinning ceremony where they received their badges and helmets.
Fire Chief Edmund Cain told the newest additions to the department – Daniel Moore, Stuart Venables, Richard Sprole, Jacob Rogers, Zachary Meckstroth, Brian Hilty, Nicholas Fatolitis and Dillon Berry – that as they signed their oaths of office, they’d be entering into one of the greatest but most hazardous occupations in the country.
“Always treat people the way you would like to be treated and always conduct yourself in a professional manner,” he told the graduates of Class 1803. “Display composure during emergency situations and perform to your highest level of capacity.”
Cain also told the new firefighters that they’d be the first to arrive at emergency scenes and can expect to witness situations that will forever leave marks on their lives.
“Know that you are not alone,” he said. “You have the support of not only your family but your firefighting family as well.”
District Manager Richard Baier also welcomed the new firefighters aboard and told them that he appreciated each of them choosing to work at The Villages Public Safety Department.
“You are joining a department that is going through fast growth, department planning and looking ahead to an exciting period where we will grow to some 70 square miles,” he said. “And you are joining a department led by an extremely well-qualified and dedicated set of professionals who confront challenges, embrace change and turn system weaknesses into success opportunities.”
Moore was chosen as the leader of Class 1803 and therefore was selected to give a speech at the ceremony. He told those attending the event that over the past six weeks, the class had learned many important skills to enhance their firefighting abilities, including techniques that will further help them protect lives and property in The Villages.
“But beyond these skills, and perhaps more importantly, we have learned the importance of accountability, integrity and how to work together as a team to accomplish these goals,” he said. “And we can also take these things into our personal lives.”
Robert “Bobby” Ramage Jr., who serves as the division chief of fire training and recently was named as the department’s Firefighter of the Year, said he was extremely impressed with Class 1803.
“They worked together well during the six weeks,” he said. “They did a good job through all aspects of orientation. They came together really good at the end. So I’m confident in their skills and abilities out there and I look forward to seeing them on the road.”
“They’re terrific and they did a great job during orientation,” he said. “They have to things to learn yet, but they’re eager to do so.”
Thursday’s ceremony also honored five department members who were promoted. Those were Corey McCaulley (battalion chief), Noah Hartman (lieutenant), Rocky Hartman (lieutenant), Robert Meffen (lieutenant), Robert Smiley (lieutenant) and Vincent Walczak (lieutenant).
Firefighters who deployed to the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael devastated the area in October also were recognized. They included: Lt. Adelisa Luciano, Lt. Don Neebling, Lt. Chris Gruber, Lt. Danny McGoldrick, Devin Lawrence (firefighter/paramedic), Jonathan Hartman (firefighter/EMT), Eric Williamson (firefighter/paramedic/driver-engineer), Ryan Lavender (firefighter/paramedic/driver-engineer), Jacob May (firefighter/EMT), David Gomez (firefighter/paramedic/driver-engineer) and Keith Norris (firefighter/paramedic/driver-engineer).