New Probies first to graduate under pandemic conditions
By Steve Hill, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) announced Friday the graduation of its Fire Recruit Academy 55 and the addition of five new probationary firefighter-paramedics to the District’s ranks.
The already experienced firefighter joined Con Fire three months ago from their assignments at other well-respected fire jurisdictions. As firefighter-paramedics, they now join and bolster the District’s paramedic ranks supporting its Advanced Life Support (ALS) status with paramedic staffing on every apparatus.
Academy 55 was the first in Con Fire to be conducted entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in significant challenges related to requirements for social distancing, health monitoring and protective equipment.
“I’m especially pleased to welcome this accomplished group of five new firefighter-paramedics who chose to join Con Fire from assignments in other fire jurisdictions,” said Lewis T. Broschard III, fire chief, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. “After their just-completed rigorous fire recruit academy training program they are exceptionally well prepared to step into new roles later next week as probationary firefighter-paramedics in fire stations across our District.”
“As members of this lateral academy, we sought out Con Fire because we wanted more, we wanted to be the best,” said Probationary Firefighter-Paramedic Matthew Pagan. “We have worked hard, trained hard and studied hard to get to today and that is why we came to Con Fire; we wanted tougher, we wanted stronger and we wanted it to be challenging.”
The graduating recruits underwent a physically and mentally challenging 12-week course of instruction using the latest firefighting and training techniques. In addition to basic structure firefighting techniques, recruits honed wildland fire, rescue, automobile extrication, hazardous materials and other techniques they can be expected to put to use in their first assignments.
Immediately prior to graduation, the recruits participated in the traditional end-of-academy “crucible” exercise, a realistic 48-hour period designed to replicate what they will soon face in actual shifts In their assignments as Con Fire probationary firefighters. The crucible exercise included numerous simulated incident responses and concluded with deployment to a training wildfire fire atop Mt. Diablo’s Eagle Peak, which required a six-plus mile hike in full wildland fire gear.
The graduation ceremony was virtual except for a limited number of family members and was held at Con Fire’s training grounds in Concord. Each graduate was “pinned” with their firefighter badge and sworn in as a probationary firefighter-paramedic.
About Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire) — A recognized fire service leader — Con Fire provides fire and emergency medical services to more than a million people across its 304 square-mile District area, and through mutual aid, in and around the 20 cities and unincorporated communities of Contra Costa County, California. With few exceptions, county emergency ambulance transport services are provided by Con Fire through its unique sub-contractor Alliance model. In 2019, the District responded to nearly 78,000 fire and EMS emergencies and dispatched some 95,000 ambulances, providing expert medical care on more than 74,000 ambulance transports. The District, with 26 fire stations and more than 400 employees, is dedicated to preserving life, property and the environment.