The Hollister Fire Department (HFD) held a promotion and swearing-in ceremony on June 17 at Fire Station #1 located at 110 5th Street. Gathering in the station’s fire apparatus bay, 50 family members, friends, fellow firefighters and department employees witnessed the promotion of six firefighters and swearing in of three firefighter academy graduates.
“We’re not out here for the paycheck; we just want to deliver the best customer service to the public and do what we do,” said Battalion Chief Charlie Bedolla in the ceremony’s opening speech. “Ask each and every one of these individuals and they will say, ‘I’m here to do my job and do the best I can—to serve the community and serve the public.’”
Hollister Deputy City Clerk Nova Romero swore in new firefighters Joubert Ballard, Wayne Clark and Jeffrey Roberts. Romero also swore in fire engineers Vincent Grewohl and Johnny Amescua to their new positions as fire captains; firefighters Taylor Siemann, Holden Renz, and Vincent Munoz to fire engineers; and firefighter Carter Train as a probationary firefighter for HFD.
Academy graduate Ballard said the eight-week academy was physically and mentally challenging. Headed by Battalion Chief Phil Rossi, with a training cadre that included Fire Captain Jarred Utzig, Fire Captain Adolfo Aguilar, Fire Engineer Michael Dariano and Fire Captain Josh Buzzetta, students took written tests, physical agility tests, and participated in an interview assessment.
Ballard, 29, said he found a strong support system in his academy mates Clark and Roberts. “We were able to pick each other up and we kept pushing through,” he said.
Ballard also said his fiancee and three-year-old daughter helped motivate him to complete the academy; he wasn’t doing it only for himself, but also for his family’s future.
“I’d come home and see my fiancee, and I’d see my daughter smiling, and I’d say, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’”
Heidi Roddy said her boyfriend, academy graduate Roberts, 30, had worked two and a half years to become a firefighter. The South Bay Firefighter 1 Academy, which is required before completing the HFD academy, was 10 months long.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Roddy said. “From his first academy to now, we’ve just been waiting for this moment. I’m so proud and happy for him. All of his dreams and goals are coming to fruition. It’s exciting to see.”
Bedolla said that the fire department has been waiting for a moment like this graduation to bring morale back into the community.
“We had to lock things down and keep things safe; we had to keep everyone healthy so we could provide for the public,” Bedolla said. “So when we started to open up, we said ‘It’s time to get these guys out there and to acknowledge them for all the work they’ve done. It’s been a hard time for everyone all around, so I think this is the perfect time for us to get you out there and celebrate you. Let’s show some good, positivity for the community, to show folks who’s working for them; who’s behind them.”
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