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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 20, 2010

New firefighters ready to answer their first alarm

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

James Pohano, center, is all smiles after receiving the award for superior performance in drills from Assistant Chief Tommy Perkins, right. The 95th Honolulu Fire Department recruit class produced 24 new firefighters.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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For more information on job opportunities with the fire department, go to www.honolulu.gov/HFD/faqs.htm

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Two dozen fledgling recruits reached the end of a challenging six-month training regimen yesterday when they received their badges as full-fledged firefighters.

The new crop of firefighters, which includes two women, became the Honolulu Fire Department's 95th graduating class at a graduation ceremony at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Regional Park.

"The past six months have been tough, not for a single reason, but for many," said Jeffrey Ramos, a member of the class of 2010. "Our class is diverse. We will do our best to make you proud."

Their diversity was not just in ethnicity and gender, but also in height: This class ranged in height from 4 feet 10 to 6 feet 3.

It was the first graduating class since February 2009, Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said. The Honolulu Fire Department has more than 1,100 firefighters.

This year's graduates were part of a group who took the firefighter recruit test in 2008, Seelig said. There's a rigorous screening process before firefighter applicants are selected for the 25-week training session.

They learned how to don their gear in under two minutes. They learned the proper technique of extricating a person from a smashed vehicle. They took 49 written exams.

Many will begin their new assignments Monday.

"It takes a lot to get to today," Deputy Fire Chief Rolland Harvest said after the ceremony. "The ceremony signifies the work the recruits have done. Each of these firefighters are now ready to roll on a call."

Newly minted firefighter Jaimie Kinard agreed that she will be ready when she reports to work Monday at the 'Aikahi fire station in Kailua.

"I feel so ready," Kinard said. "We're all chomping at the bit to go forward and to go to our first alarm."

No date has been set for when the next recruit class will begin. Traditionally the department tries to have recruit classes of no more than 25 members.