Local fire departments gained five new recruits from a fire academy graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon at the Dolores Fire House.
The recruit class was named in honor of deceased firefighter, Patrick H. Fischer, who served at the Dolores Fire Protection District for 20 years. He served as assistant chief for about half that time.
The five graduates were surrounded by friends and family.
The graduates are: Tommy Johnson, West Fork Volunteer Fire Department; Wyatt Jones and Dan Redburn, Dolores Fire Protection District; and Chris Ludington and Gabriel Rogers, Cortez Fire Protection District.
“We appreciate everyone coming out for this,” said Shawn Bittle, assistant fire chief. “What a great day to be a firefighter in Montezuma County.”
The Patrick H. Fischer Memorial Recruit Class was the inaugural Montezuma County Fire Academy class and was sponsored by the Montezuma County Chiefs Association.
“We wanted to make sure that the class had a well-rounded education,” Bittle said. “We insisted that they learn not only the curriculum found in the pages of their textbooks, but they learn the strong traditions of each district in our county.”
The class rotated to a different district each month for the past six months.
“These firefighters are well on their way to making a great addition to their districts and communities,” Bittle said.
On the first night of class, after meeting one of Patrick Fischer’s sons, Zane Fischer and his family, class members decided that they wanted to set a goal to go above and beyond, much like Patrick Fischer, according to Bittle.
“The goal that they agreed on was to graduate with a class average of 90 percent,” Bittle said. “I am very proud to say that they have achieved this goal.”
Bittle welcomed the families and friends of the new firefighters to the “family,” saying that they are always there for one another in what can be a difficult environment.