15 new recruits join WSFD

Chief Trey Mayo presents new recruit David Emery with his badge while fellow recruits stand at attention during Recruitment Class 26's graduation ceremony on Friday, July 13.

15 new recruits join WSFD
July 19
12:00 2018

Fifteen recruits transitioned through the ranks last week as Recruitment Class XXVI (26) of the Winston-Salem Fire Department held its graduation ceremony on Friday, July 13. 

Hundreds of family members, friends and loved ones filed into the Benton Convention Center last Friday morning to watch recruits walk across the stage and begin their careers as first responders. 

The graduation ceremony was the culmination of six months of early mornings and late nights.

According to Captain Chris Belcher, before they even began fire training, recruits had to endure 232 hours of instruction, 11 tests, 41 quizzes, a final evaluation, and the N.C. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Exam. Belcher, who leads safety and training for the WSFD, said the long hours the recruits spent together created a bond that will live on forever. 

“These guys are a team; they’re family.” Belcher said. 

Chief Trey Mayo told the graduates that although they have completed their training, most of their learning will occur on the fly.

“Most of your learning is going to occur starting Monday morning when you go on shift,” he said. “It is of upmost importance that you stay sharp in three areas. Those three things are fire behavior, building construction and physical fitness.”

Mayo said those three areas are responsible for 77 percent of all firefighter deaths in America last year. He said, “Don’t fail your crew, don’t fail your families and don’t fail yourselves because you became rusty in one or three of those areas.”

Among the graduates was 17-year-old Levi Park, who is a recent graduate of Glenn High School and the youngest recruit ever to complete from the WSFD’s training academy. 

“I feel blessed to be able to be a part of this team and this city. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given,” said Park. “… My dad has been a firefighter here for 17 years and I’ve been wanting to be one since I was born. I’ve always looked up to him and I got this opportunity and I’m very thankful.” 

Park admits it was tough balancing training and school at first, but after a few weeks he got a handle on it. He said, “Getting ready to graduate and going through EMT was a very stressful time, but I dedicated myself and just pushed through.” 

Other members of Recruit Class XXVI were: Evan Bryant, Aaron Byington, J.R. Deguzman, David Emery, Paul Enderson, Mitchell Garmer, Cameron Hall, Jacob Kline, Wesley McCaskill, Chandley McKinnon, Austin Shelton, Jonathan Stone, Samuel Walker  and Johnathan Watterson.

During the keynote address, Dr. Burton A. Clark, who has been in the fire service for 45 years, told the graduates to have a successful career, it will take courage, commitment, and competency.

As he stood before the graduates, Dr. Clark, who has served in various capacities with fire departments across the country, said, “What will matter 30 years from now, I hope you have health, a loving family and career satisfaction.

“The price for these blessings will be 30 years of courage, commitment and competence,” he continued. “… 30 years from today, I want you to find the newest member of the fire department, walk up to them and tell them what you think matters.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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