Fortuna, Ca., (KIEM)- Thursday night in Fortuna, badges were pinned to the chests of four new recruits, six promoted veterans, and three young explorers.
Since it’s foundation in 1904, the Fortuna Fire Department has been staffed by volunteers. From the Ladies Auxillary to the fire fighters themselves, most everyone gives their time out of sheer dedication.
“It’s a family, it’s an extension of a family. That’s the best part.” Casey Hall, who was sworn in Thursday, said.
She’s a fifth generation fire fighter, and a graduate of the EMT program at College of the Redwoods. After a year of volunteering at the department in Fortuna, she’s now finished with the academy and a full fledged fire fighter. “I’m pretty excited to be retiring my orange helmet soon, that’s the newbie helmet.” Hall said.
As tradition dictates, loved ones pin badges onto the newly minted first responder’s uniforms in front of family, friends, peers and officers.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be as special as it was, with everybody here and all the support from the community, all of my officers that helped me through the academy… it was just very special.” Hall described the experience.
She stood shoulder to shoulder with other volunteers who were honored for different reasons. Three teens completed the Explorer Program (which allows young people to explore the field), and five firemen were promoted to lieutenants, and one veteran volunteer was “pinned” as chaplain.
“Having superiors that you really respect and trust in stressful situations is really unique I think.” Hall said, when asked what made volunteer departments special.
The spirit of family, and community was almost palpable in Fortuna, as volunteers willing to risk their lives for their neighbors welcomed new brothers and sisters to their ranks.