It was a night of numbers.
• 475: The approximate number of individuals who applied for a firefighter position with the Edmond Fire Department;
• 9: The number of recruits who began and completed the Fire Department’s 28th in-house academy;
• 40-plus: The number of exams recruits completed during the 22-week academy;
• 6:45: When the recruits began their physical exercise each morning; and
• 53,000: The total number of push ups completed by the recruits during the academy.
Dustin Bowman, 21, Jason Dillon, 26, Johnny Gibson, 32, Izea Lovejoy, 25, Taylor Mick, 23, Cody Sanders, 23, Tyler Smith, 24, Jacob Stangl, 25, and Craig Williamson, 35, graduated from the recruit academy Friday evening and became the newest members of the Edmond Fire Department.
“Twenty-two weeks ago, we showed up completely scared and not knowing what to expect,” Stangl said during the recruit address.
Inserting a few humorous anecdotes along the way, Stangl recollected going to the human resources office to fill out paperwork, the exercise, completing the SCBA week, apparatus driving, fire hose week and framing two houses.
“We realized that our training is rigorous and demanding for one reason — the standard was set by those who paved the way for us and gave this department the prestige and the respect that it currently has,” Stangl said. “As the future of this department, we’re expected to continue and to carry on that tradition.”
Stangl said the academy has brought new meaning to the term “brotherhood” for the recruits.
“We’ve gone from nine complete strangers to one close-knit family in just a few short months,” he said.
Stangl thanked the agency for the opportunity to serve. He thanked family members who supported them during their journey. He also thanked the primary trainers: Chief Training Officer Jon Neely, Maj. Joe Elam, Maj. Mike Fitzgerald and Driver Luke Gregory.
Fire Chief Jake Rhoades concluded the ceremony.
“This is a change. This is a life change for a lot of individuals, a lot of families,” Rhoades said. “Without the families it can’t be done.”
Rhoades spoke to the recruits about three main points — experience, opportunities and preparation.
Rhoades urged the new firefighters to keep their priorities straight, to remember they are here to serve the community, to be proud of who they are and that they control their own future in the fire service.
“You are the future of the Edmond Fire Department,” he said, noting his personal excitement about the growth. “Be safe every day and take care of yourself.”
Neely said it was a personal privilege to work with the recruits during the academy, which has given them the basic skills for successful service. Now it is time to practice and master them, he said. He urged the new firefighters to remember the love and support that got them to this point, and to share their God-given compassion with others.
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