The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department on Dec. 16 welcomed its 21 newest members at its 155th Recruit School Graduation, held at the McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre.
Deputy Chief Gregory Hunter, the chief training officer, presented the recruits to kick off the ceremony. Following the presentation of colors by the Honor Guard and Northern Virginia Firefighters’ Emerald Society Pipe Band, retired Capt. Francis Mensah sang the National Anthem.
Fire Chief John Butler and Battalion Chiefs Kristopher Johnson and Daniel Gajewski gave remarks at the proceedings. Butler also administered the Firefighter’s Oath and presented a ceremonial helmet.
Graduates of the 155th recruit class (motto: “More Than You Can Handle”) were Ryan Castillo, Dominique Chatelain, Nicholas Cuevas, Luis Danielli Euribe, Luke Darkes, Moeed Ghazi, Brandon Goodman, Benjamin Higginbotham, Kyle Jackson, Cory Kirby, Noah Luther, Jacob Markey, Chase Myers, Aidan Ozbay, Owen Ranck, Sean Roche, Gabriel Rogers, Christopher Rosecrans, Steven Sarver, Ramon Vargas and Adam Wallace.
The Board of Supervisors in July 1949 created the Fire and Rescue Department, which assigned 13 career firefighters to volunteer stations. Each was paid $2,500 per year.
The department now has more than 1,400 uniformed personnel assigned to 39 fire stations. About 180 civilians and 355 operational volunteers provide additional support.
The agency initially conducted four schools with training classes for existing firefighters, but in 1965 it finished construction of the county’s first Fire and Rescue Academy. Fire Administrator Willis Burton that year started Recruit School No. 5, the first for new officers, and appointed the first training instructor.
The department now holds its recruit schools at the Fire and Rescue Academy, located at 4600 West Ox Road in Fairfax. The 24-week school, which runs eight hours per day for five days per week, provides instruction in academics, work-performance evaluations and daily physical training, including strength and conditioning, core exercises and running.