[cifnmedia] Decatur FD academys' 10 graduates largest class since 1970

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Oct 2004 15:23:03 -0700 (PDT)

Decatur Fire Department academy's 10 graduates largest class since 1970

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DECATUR - Ten new Decatur firefighters were admonished Friday by Battalion Chief Les Lockwood to stick to their core values, take pride in their job and maintain their integrity on and off duty.

Lockwood spoke at a graduation ceremony for the men, who had just completed six weeks of intense instruction in the fire department's academy at Fire Station No. 2.

After another week of state-mandated hazardous materials training, the new firefighters will begin their one-year probation period, joining the first and second battalions to fill vacancies at fire stations throughout the city.

The 10 recruits represent the largest training class the Decatur Fire Department has had at least since 1970, when seven men went through training at the same time, said Fire Chief Les Albert.

New firefighter Toby M. Jackson spoke for the trainees to a room packed with family members and fellow firefighters. They watched and applauded as the men received their badges, some from fathers who also are firefighters.

"It was six weeks of long days and sometimes weekends," Jackson said. "Looking back, it seems like yesterday. We got to know the equipment and the apparatus. Best of all, we got to know the guys. Hopefully, we can make the links in the chain stronger."

Jackson said an instructor told the recruits to adapt, overcome and be flexible.

Battalion Chief Fred Schneller said he helped interview more than 100 applicants to select the 10 trainees, the survivors from a field of more than 320 initial applicants.

New firefighter Clifton Miller, 24, a Beecher City native, said he was a paramedic in Springfield and Taylorville prior to joining the Decatur department.

"Fire fighting was something I've always loved doing," Miller said. "My dad and my granddad were volunteer firefighters. When I was younger, I begged to go on calls. This was my first chance to test."

New firefighter Neil Elder, 31, served full time on the Sullivan Fire Department for seven years before coming to Decatur. He said his motivation to be a firefighter is public service.

"You feel like every day you go out and help people in the community," he said. "It feels good to do that, to make a difference."

Ron Ingram can be reached at ringram@;herald-review.com or 421-7973

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network


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