For Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy R. Bruegman, Friday was all about the future.
“One of the most important things you do as a leader in any organization is make sure you get the right people on the bus,” the chief said of the 35 fire service professionals recognized May 22 at a Promotion and Graduation Ceremony at City National Grove of Anaheim.
“Hiring new firefighter/paramedics always has been one of the most important things I do,” Bruegman added. “And when we promote people, we’re looking for people with character who will lead this organization in the future. They are our succession plan 10 years from now.”
At Friday’s ceremony, Anaheim Fire & Rescue welcomed 19 new members to its fire family and honored 16 promotees. Hundreds of fire service professionals, Anaheim Police and other city officials, and family and friends of the 35 honorees were on hand to watch.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue now has more than 200 sworn firefighters, with another academy anticipated next year, Bruegman said.
The ceremony began with the Inland Empire Professional Firefighters Pipes & Drums Corp leading a procession followed by Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Honor Guard for a presentation of colors.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chaplain Nathan Zug delivered the invocation, and Malia Civetz sang the national anthem.
The emcee of the ceremony was Eileen Frere, Orange County bureau chief for ABC7 Eyewitness News.
“How appropriate as we head into the Memorial Day weekend, during which we pay tribute to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military, that we are here today to honor another group of individuals that put their lives into harm’s way each and every day to protect others,” Frere said.
“They all have demonstrated the core values of Anaheim Fire & Rescue accountability, excellence, integrity, leadership, professionalism, trust, relationship, respect and teamwork.”
FIRE ACADEMY GRADUATES
Friday’s graduation class of 19 recruits from Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Training Academy was the largest in years.
“For the graduates, it’s a new beginning. For some of them, it is a new agency with different procedures to learn – for others it is a whole new world,” Bruegman said. “This class is a blend of experienced firefighters, and those with minimal field experience.”
The 19 new firefighter/paramedics sworn in Friday survived a grueling nine-month process that began with close to 373 applicants. Only 48 were invited to an interview with the chief and less than half of those had background checks processed.
The final graduating class represented those recruits who successfully completed an intensive classroom and field training course over the last eight weeks.
At Friday’s ceremony, they all learned their assignments.
The 19 graduates:
Tyler lives in Wrightwood and has two years of previous fire experience. His father, San Bernardino City Fire Capt. Sam Bashaw, pinned on his badge.
Jamison lives in Anaheim. Pinning his badge was Anaheim Fire & Rescue Engineer Rob Tebbutt, Jamison’s cousin.
Blake lives in Temecula and has eight years of previous fire experience. Pinning his badge was his father Scott Berg, retired deputy chief at AF&R.
Jason “JB” Buchanan
Jason lives in Temecula and has 14 years of previous fire experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Rebecca and daughter Makenzie.
Calvin lives in Huntington Beach and has a year of past fire experience. Pinning his badge was his fiancee, Erika Jacobs.
Patrick lives in Big Bear and has 15 years of fire experience. Pinning his badge was his wife, Tiffany Burton.
Erik lives in Winchester and has nine years of firefighting experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Vanessa and their daughter Emily.
Michael lives in Murrieta and has two years of firefighting experience. Pinning his badge was his wife, Dominique.
Nicholas lives in Aliso Viejo and has two years previous experience. Pinning his badge was his girlfriend, Whitney Lawrence.
Pomerne “PJ” Jones
PJ lives in Highland and has 13 years of previous experience. Pinning his badge was his girlfriend Leslie Darby and his daughter, Mia.
David lives in Orange and has five years past experience. Pinning his badge were his parents, Art and Frances Loya.
Sean lives in Anaheim and has five years previous experience. Pinning his badge was his girlfriend, Brittany Boole and his grandfather, James Millard, a retired chief warrant officer in the armed forces and formerly a member of the Anaheim Public Utilities team.
Jade lives in Yucaipa and has 14 years of previous experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Candance.
Jonathon lives in Torrance. Pinning his badge was his mother Michelle and father, Redondo Beach Police Chief John Neu.
Kyle lives in Apple Valley and has nine years of previous experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Britt and daughter Brynlee.
Sean lives in San Clemente and has four years of previous experience. Pinning his badge was his fiancee, Sara Balbas.
Grant lives in Temecula and has eight years previous experience. Pinning his badge was his wife Katy and their daughter Brooklyn.
John Strickland III
John lives in Wrightwood and has two years of previous experience. Pinning his badge is his father, Anaheim Fire & Rescue Capt. John Strickland.
Carlos lives in Pico Rivera. Pinning his badge is his father, Jose Torres.
“Each of these individuals continues to grow in their professional career seeking new opportunities to better themselves and in turn make our agency stronger,” Bruegman said. “Their commitment to their profession has strengthened our agency and represents those that will lead this organization in the future.”
The 16 promoted AF&R professionals:
Deputy Chief Jeff Alario
The role of Support Services is critical to the agency; the division ensures that all of the city’s 11 stations are functional and all of the department’s apparatus and their equipment are operational. This is a critical role when funding for new apparatus is available, for this individual leads the design and production of those units that will be in service for more than a decade. In addition, this role oversees the agency’s emergency management and preparedness section and information technology section.
Chief Alario joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in 1991 as a firefighter/paramedic. He achieved the rank of captain in 2001 and earned his promotion to battalion chief in 2013. He was promoted in January 2015 to deputy chief.
Pinning his badge was his father, Ed Alario, who served the City of Anaheim with distinction as its public utilities assistant general manager for water services. Also helping pin the badge was Jeff’s brother, Mark.
Battalion Chief Jeff Thomas
A fire battalion chief plays a critical leadership role in the department, and is responsible for the direction and coordination of a battalion (consisting of several fire companies) in the performance of emergency and non-emergency operations.
In 1988, Chief Thomas joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue as a firefighter. He earned his promotion to fire engineer and paramedic license in 1996. Jeff was promoted to captain in 2004 and this past August was promoted to battalion chief.
Pinning his badge was his brother (and identical twin), Orange City Battalion Chief Jack Thomas.
Battalion Chief Robert McClellan
Chief McClellan was hired in 1996 as a firefighter and received his paramedic license in 2000. Three years later, he was promoted to fire engineer, and became a captain in 2008. He was promoted to battalion chief in March 2015.
Pinning his badge was his father, Dirk McClellan, a retired fire captain from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Captain Grant Riley
Captain Riley joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in 2006 as a firefighter and was promoted to captain in 2014.
Pinning his badge was his father, Timothy Riley, retired fire chief from the Newport Beach Fire Department and formerly a deputy chief for Anaheim Fire.
Captain Matt Zaun
Capt. Zaun joined the department in 2002, received his paramedic license in 2003 and was promoted to captain in January 2015. Capt. Zaun was not able to attend the ceremony.
Captain Kevin Kane
Captain Kane joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in 2003. He received his paramedic license in 2007 and, in 2012, was promoted to a fire engineer. In January 2015, Kevin was promoted to fire captain.
Pinning his badge was his wife, Francesca.
Captain Dennis Yunk
Captain Yunk was hired as a firefighter in 2007; the same year, he received his paramedic license. Dennis was promoted to the rank of fire captain this past January.
Pinning his badge was his girlfriend, Jessica Johnson.
Captain Dan Lecon
Capt. Lecon was hired in 2002. In 2006, he was promoted to fire engineer and in January 2015 was promoted to fire captain.
Pinning his badge was his father, Dan Lecon, a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant.
Fire Engineer Chris Fulkerson
Engineer Fulkerson joined as a firefighter in 2006 and received his paramedic license in 2009. In December 2014, Chris was promoted to fire engineer.
Pinning his badge was Chief Bruegman.
Fire Engineer David Reeves
Engineer Reeves was hired as a firefighter/paramedic in 2008 and was promoted to fire engineer in January 2015.
Pinning his badge was his wife Rebecca.
Fire Engineer Kevin Volpe
Engineer Volpe was hired as a firefighter in 2002 and achieved his paramedic license in 2007. He was promoted to his current rank of fire engineer in January 2015.
Pinning his badge was his wife Tiffany.
Fire Engineer Jeff “Nims” Nimsiriruengphol
Engineer Nims was hired in 2006 as a firefighter. He had previously trained as a paramedic and in 2007 was activated in this role for the city of Anaheim. In 2015, Nims was promoted to fire engineer.
Pinning his badge was his wife Sophani.
Fire Engineer Shane Kohls
Engineer Kohls joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue as a firefighter in July 2005, and four years later he earned his paramedic license. His promotion to fire engineer was effective Friday.
Pinning his badge was his wife Annette.
Emergency Medical Services Education Manager Kristin Thompson
With 80 percent of their annual calls being medical related, it is imperative that the members of Anaheim Fire & Rescue continue to sharpen their skills in emergency services.
Kristin joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue in 2007 as a part-time nurse educator. In February of this year, she was promoted to her current role as emergency medical services education manager.
Pinning her badge was her husband, Huntington Beach Fire Capt. Ron Thompson.
Fire Inspector/Arson Investigator Adrian Abel
Inspector Abel joined Anaheim Fire & Rescue as a part-time inspector in 2007 and was promoted to full time in August 2014.
Pinning his badge was his mother, Angela Abel.
Fire Inspector Alicia Badosa
Inspector Badosa joined the city of Anaheim in 2008 and became a part-time fire inspector in 2013. Alicia was promoted to full time in February 2015.
Pinning her badge was her father, Ernie Badosa, a retired fire captain from Anaheim Fire.
Other images from Friday’s event: