The ceremony was upbeat and celebratory, but the honorees were urged to focus on the bigger picture:
What will your personal legacy be?
They were told by Anaheim Fire & Rescue leaders they have a tremendous responsibility to provide the best fire and emergency medical services to Anaheim’s residents as well as its 24 million annual visitors — and not to take such a responsibility lightly.
The admonition came during AFR’s 2016 Promotion & Graduation Ceremony, held May 18 at the City National Grove of Anaheim.
Recently promoted AFR officials, new firefighters, their families and friends, city officials and the command staff of the Anaheim PD were among those attending the annual promotion and graduation ceremony.
This year, before more than 400 people, the promotions of 15 fire service professionals were recognized as well as the hiring of 10 new firefighter/paramedics.
Several hours before the morning ceremony, many firefighters in the room helped knock down a three-alarm fire at a senior center. The firefighters were praised for working under such a stressful environment and doing so in such a graceful manner.
AFR is one of the top fire agencies in the nation. In 2014, the agency became officially accredited by the Center of Public Safety Excellence, making it only one of 220 fire agencies that are accredited by CPSE internationally (only 16 in California are accredited.)
And AFR has received an ISO Class 1 rating. The public protection classification program of the Insurance Services Office gauges the fire protection capability of agency to respond to structure fires.
AFR is one of three California cities to be both CPSE accredited and have an ISO Class 1 designation.
Eileen Frere, Orange County bureau chief for KABC7, served as the ceremony’s emcee for the third consecutive year.
During the ceremony, guests watched as each honoree had a family member pin their official badge on their uniform — a time-long tradition in the public safety industry.
Battalion Chief Kevin Stewart
Chief Stewart was hired by Anaheim Fire & Rescue in November 2004 and was promoted as an engineer in April 2007. He became a captain in November 2011 and was promoted to his current rank of battalion chief in June 2015.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Melanie.
Battalion Chief Thomas Roche
Chief Roche joined the department in January 1988 as a firefighter and earned his paramedic credentials in 1996. He was promoted as an engineer in June 2000 and four years later was promoted to captain. Chief Roche was promoted to his current position as battalion chief in February of this year.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Cindy.
Capt. Robert Aguilar
Capt. Aguilar joined the department in 2001 as a firefighter and earned his paramedic credentials in 2002. He was promoted as an engineer in 2006 and then captain in June 2015.
Capt. Aguilar could not attend the ceremony.
Capt. Todd Needle
In May 2002, Capt. Needle joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue. He earned his paramedic credentials in 2006 and was promoted as an engineer in February 2012. In October 2015, Todd was promoted to captain.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Coleen.
Capt. Richard Martinez
Capt. Martinez joined the department in February 2006. He was promoted to fire engineer in April 2011 and received his paramedic credentials 21 months later. He was promoted to captain in January.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Priscella.
Capt. George Rangel
Capt. Rangel joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in March 2001. He earned his paramedic credentials in November 2007 and was promoted to engineer in 2012. He was promoted to the rank of captain in January.
Pinning his badge was his grandfather, Charlie, a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy as an engineer with mechanical skill specialties.
Capt. Bradley Oye
Capt. Oye joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in January 2003. Four years later he earned his paramedic credentials. He was promoted to engineer in February 2012 and in February of this year he was promoted to captain.
Pinning his badge was his father, Ed.
Engineer Scott Mattis
Fire Engineer Mattis joined the department in June 2005 and was promoted to engineer in October 2015.
He was not able to attend the ceremony.
Engineer James McDuffie
Engineer McDuffie joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in January 1996. He received his urban search and rescue credentials in April 2005 and was certified for hazardous waste materials response in April 2014. He was promoted to engineer in January.
Pinning his badge was his son, Jared.
Engineer Michel Bowidowicz
Engineer Bowidowicz joined the department as a firefighter in March 2009 and was promoted to his current position as an engineer in January 2016. Michel is also part of the department’s honor guard.
Prior to joining Anaheim Fire & Rescue, engineer Bowidowicz served in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Jami.
Engineer Tyler Neuhausen
Engineer Neuhausen joined the department in March 2006 and earned his paramedic credentials in January 2013. He was promoted to engineer in june 2015.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Lindsay.
Deputy Fire Marshal Allen Hogue
Deputy Fire Marshal Hogue joined the department in October 1995 as a fire inspector 1 and was promoted to fire inspector 2 in February 1999. In March 2013, he was promoted to fire prevention supervisor and in February he was promoted to deputy fire marshal.
Pinning Deputy Fire Marshal Hogue’s badge was his wife, Nina.
Assistant Fire Marshal Gary Blevins
Assistant Fire Marshal Blevins joined the department as a hazardous materials inspector 2 in November 2007 and was promoted to assistant fire marshal in March 2016.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Melissa Blevins.
Metro Net Fire Dispatch Supervisor Tracy Nolan
Supervisor Nolan joined Metro Net in March 2007 and was promoted to supervisor in August 2015. Her career in emergency communications started in 1994 as a police dispatcher for the Buena Park PD and later for the La Palma PD. In addition, she has served as a communications training officer and tactical dispatcher. She is currently part of the incident dispatch team trained to provide communications services on site of an incident.
Pinning the badge on Tracy was her daughter, Jordan Nolan, escorted by Anaheim Battalion Chief Bob McClellan.
Metro Net Fire Dispatch Supervisor Steven Perez
Steven joined Metro Net as a dispatcher in October 2010 and was promoted as a supervisor in September 2015. He completed emergency medical training at Cerritos Community College and previously worked for Care Ambulance Service.
Pinning the badge on Steven were his parents, Linda and Richard. Richard is an Army veteran.
The journey to become an Anaheim Fire & Rescue Firefighter/Paramedic started with recruitment late in October 2014. More than 370 applications were received and over the course of 17 months, the following candidates were selected to train under the leadership of Fire Academy Commander and Battalion Chief Chad Thompson:
Firefighter/Paramedic Ian Maxwell
Ian lives in Wrightwood. Pinning his badge was his wife, Rachel, and his daughter, Charlie.
Firefighter/Paramedic Andy McAnally
Andy lives in Yucaipa and has five years of fire service experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Lauren, and his daughter, Hayden.
Firefighter/Paramedic Alex Miranda
Alex lives in Covina and has a year of fire service experience. Pinning his badge was his wife, Iris.
Firefighter/Paramedic Vinh Nguyen
Vinh lives in Anaheim. Pinning his badge were his parents, Chien Nguyen and Namtein Tran.
Firefighter/Paramedic David Panepinto
David lives in San Clemente. Pinning his badge was his wife, Christine, with his son Ryland and daughter Declyn.
Alex lives in Westminster. Pinning his badge were his parents, Denise and Michael. Mr. Pinel is a retired engineer from the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
Firefighter/Paramedic Anthony Silva
Anthony lives in Oak Hills and has a year of fire service experience. Pinning his badge were his parents, Eric and La Donna.
Eric Silva had a distinguished career as a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and has also served in the Air National Guard.
Firefighter/Paramedic Dustin Sola
Dustin lives in Carlsbad and has a year of fire service experience. Pinning his badge was his fiancée Kristi Bishop.
Firefighter/Paramedic Nathan Turley
Nathan lives in Beaumont and has 11 years of fire service experience. Pinning his badge was his wife, Kim, with his daughters Brooke and Morgan.
Firefighter/Paramedic Michael White
Michael lives in Riverside and has 11 years of fire service experience. Pinning his badge were his wife, Amber, and son Brayden.
The new firefighter/paramedics started their first official shifts at the end of this week.
Capt. Tim Sandifer, for the Ed Bent Training Excellence Award given annually to the top firefighting instructor in the state.
Firefighter Heather Soliz, honored by the VFW Post 3173 as Firefighter of the Year for her community engagement and outreach and her willingness to go above and beyond in helping others throughout our city.
Fire Communications System Administrator Juan Ordaz, the 2016 IT Technologist of the Year Award presented by the California Public Safety Radio Association.