Eight new firefighters ready to be deployed in The Villages

The Villages Public Safety Department welcomed aboard eight new firefighters on Thursday in a pinning ceremony where they received their badges and helmets.

The eight new firefighters with The Villages Public Safety Department participate in Thursday’s pinning ceremony. They are: Stuart Venables, Richard Sprole, Jacob Rogers, Daniel Moore, Zachary Meckstroth, Brian Hilty, Nicholas Fatolitis and Dillon Berry.

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.”

District Public Safety Fire Chief Edmund Cain and District Manager Richard Baier offer congratulations to the department’s eight new firefighters.

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.”

Battalion Chief Corey McCaulley celebrates his promotion with his family.

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.”

Firefighter Daniel Moore, chosen as the leader of Class 1803, gives a speech during Thursday’s pinning ceremony.

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.”

Division Chief of Fire Training Robert “Bobby” Ramage Jr. addresses the group of firefighters he recently spent six weeks training during Thursday’s pinning ceremony.

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.”

Cain agreed.

“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.”

There were plenty of smiles and lots of hugs after the members of Class 1803 received their badges during Thursday’s ceremony at The Villages Public Safety Department.

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).

Firefighters who were promoted and those who deployed to the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael hit the area also were honored during Thursday’s ceremony.