FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 4, 2013
For additional information,
Contact: Amanda Shell
Rural/Metro Fire Department held a graduation ceremony for their Fire Academy recruit class of 2012 on Thursday, Jan. 3, at the Kerbela Shrine Temple. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett delivered the keynote address to the graduates as well as friends, family members and fellow firefighters gathered for the event.
As the new firefighters marked the beginning of their careers, 18 long-time Rural/Metro firefighters were honored with pins for years of service. Assistant Chief Gene Blaylock was recognized for 35 years of service as a firefighter.
Following 16 weeks and more than 240 hours of training, 26 recruits from the Rural/Metro Fire Academy received their firefighter’s badge and took the Firefighters’ Oath. The academy training program involves extensive classroom work and physical conditioning.
“I am proud of the 26 graduating recruits taking the firefighter’s oath,” said Rural/Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish. “These recruits have trained hard to get to this ceremony, and after today, they will be entrusted with the safety of Knox County residents and their property. I know they are up to the challenge.”
Mayor Burchett applauded the graduates on their commitment to the noble profession of firefighting and thanked them for helping to continue Rural/Metro’s tradition of excellent service to Knox County.
Graduating in this year’s Academy class were Gabe Atkinson, Joseph Cardio, Michael Courtney, Mark Gorman, Brian Johnson, Dwayne O’Dell, Tom Collins, Corey Dantzler, Jake Davis, Ahmed Elalfy, Greg Foster, Anthony Lopez, Chase Lyon, Shaun Lyon, Matt Plummer, Ben Romanowski, Doug Searle, Blake Welch, Nick Wilhelmson and Nate Wingate.
Six firefighters graduated to first responder firefighter-paramedic status from the FireMedic Academy during the ceremony. These firefighters were Chris Demott, Bryan Harris, Mike Kiselauskas, Shane Savell, Brad Williams and Preston Witick.
Recent promotions and completion of higher education were also recognized.
Rural/Metro of Tennessee is the largest emergency service provider in East Tennessee, with a combined work force of more than 800 firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, telecommunicators and other support personnel. Rural/Metro Ambulance Service is the only accredited provider in the state, with contracts for 911 service in Knox, Blount, Loudon, Franklin, McMinn and Polk counties. Rural/Metro Fire Department is the third largest in the state by population served and has provided fire protection for Knox County since 1977.