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Class 22-01 brings passion, skills while filling out ranks of depleted Fire Department

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Gresham Fires Class 22-01 was sworn in during a ceremony Thursday, June 30. The new recruits joining Gresham Fire & Emergency Services had to battle through flames and ice.

On the first day of their three-month fire academy, there were about 4 inches of snow covering the ground. It was that historically late snowstorm that shocked the region. And while many of the rest of us were bundled up indoors, the Gresham Fire Class 22-01 were out conditioning and learning the ropes to keep their neighbors safe.

"This is a chance for us to emphasize how much work and sacrifice was made by our new brothers and sisters," Capt. Travis Soles said. "Today is a day to celebrate and be proud."

On Thursday afternoon, June 30, the 12 members of the Class of 22-01 were celebrated in a Gresham City Council chambers packed with city employees, fellow firefighters and cheering loved ones.

"I have a lot of pride for this bunch," Soles said.

This is a special class — fondly nicknamed "The Silent Twelve" due to their penchant to listen without any banter — because it is the first academy group to graduate since November 2020, with other classes being shuttered during the pandemic.

"Week after week they showed up, day after day they proved they could do this," Lt. Shane Kooch said. "Never forget we are here to serve the people of this community."

During the ceremony, the recruits had a family member pin their badge onto their Gresham Fire uniform lapel, signed documents and had a swearing-in performed by Deputy City Manager Corey Falls.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The 12 new Gresham firefighters will help fill out the ranks of a depleted department. The members of Class 22-01 were Nolan Bany, Tiffany Behary, Natalie Dickson, Jake Ingram, Grant Kelly, Joseph Magee, Rylee McGowan, Matthew Mumau, Jack Pilarski, Alux Pisoni, Phil Stoinoff, and Cody Wyatt. Many begin Sunday, June 3, stationed across the community.

"You represent the future of Gresham Fire," said Battalion Chief Josh Butler.

The Fire Academy, taught by the Gresham Fire Training Division, is a three-month process that is designed to transform a new employee with no previous experience into a Firefighter II ranking. During the course of the academy, recruits are taught individual skills such as deploying and loading a hose, raising various size ladders, connecting to hydrants, search techniques, salvage and overhaul, and working as a team. Additionally, recruits study fire development and behavior and are trained in "Live Fire" to build their comfort in working in a burning environment.

This format allows for a diverse mix of hires, from backgrounds to skill levels, rather than require new recruits to already have a threshold of fighting fires.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Firefighter Cody Wyatt was congratulated after his pinning Thursday, June 30, that officially marked his joining the ranks of Gresham Fire. "We are very proud of the work this class has put in already", Soles said. "We're excited to see them go out on the line at this critical time when the demands of the summer are already upon us."

Gresham will continue to fill out its fire stations. The council approved an additional 12 firefighters to be trained to fill existing and projected vacancies.

"We are grateful for the support of our City Council," said Deputy City Manager Corey Falls. "At a time when public safety is growing increasingly complex, it is important that we not only continue to provide the services our communities need but improve them as well."

The goal is for the next Fire Academy to graduate in March 2023.

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