By Al Stover
Staff Reporter 

Fire Departments hold graduation ceremony for recruits

Twenty-three from Cheney, Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Spokane County Fire District 10 are honored


Friends and family filled the Sunset Elementary school gym as fire departments from Cheney, Airway Heights, Medical Lake and Spokane County Fire District 10 held a ceremony for the 23 recruit firefighters who graduated from the West Plans Recruit Structural Academy 2013-2.

The recruits went through a four-month academy that consisted of classes that helped them focus on basic firefighter skills, hazardous materials and other areas.

In addition to learning their skills, recruits tested for professional credentials for Firefighter I and Hazardous Materials Operation, as well as attend the Washington State Fire Training Academy for Search and Rescue I and Multi-Company Operations.

Besides the recruits, 10 crew leader trainees attending the Crew Leader Academy 2013-2 where part of their training was mentoring the recruits as they went through the academy. As a crew leader trainee, Bethany Camarata was responsible for two recruits.

“To watch these guys and see how they’ve grown and how far they’ve come along, I’m proud,” Camarata said.

In addition to guiding the recruits, the trainees practiced supervision and leadership skills. Lt. Chad Childears, the Crew Leader Academy Lead Instructor, mentioned that the goal was to help the crew leader trainees build relationships and create trust between the different companies of recruits.

As a reward for going through the Crew Leader Academy, trainees took an oath and received certificates.

During the ceremony, recruits received their pins and certificates. In addition to receiving their certificates, several recruits received awards: Chief’s Company, Engine 3; The Jake Award, Christopher Robins; Most Improved Award, Zach Westfall; Valedictorian, Chad Bradley; The Bulldog Award, Jake VanderZanden and The Bugle Award, Will Allen.

Following the pinning ceremony, the recruits presented a multimedia photo-video slideshow that gave the audience a sample of what the recruits experienced during their training.

Cole Gerard of the Cheney Fire Department was one of the recruits who went through the academy. Gerard said the academy helped mature his fellow firefighters and taught them about teamwork.

“Once you’ve finished, you realize how much you learned,” Gerard said.

Gerard mentioned that being graduated feels like a weight off his shoulders.

“When you’re there, you stress about grades and other things,” Gerard said. “Everyone put in so much work and to see everyone here is a wonderful feeling.”

Al Stover can be reached at


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