Some were nervous. Some were excited. Most were both.
On Saturday morning at the North Net Training Center across from Angel Stadium, Anaheim Fire & Rescue hosted a special family orientation day for the 18 recruits who will go through intensive training from now through May with the goal of becoming firefighters for Orange County’s largest city.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue leaders, speaking to the families of the 16 men and two women who make up this latest recruit class, explained that the next several weeks are going to be tough. Recruits will endure physical hardship, complete classroom training, bond with one another, and break barriers to earn the honor of joining the department.
“Anaheim holds itself to a high standard,” Battalion Chief Kevin Stewart said. “It’s true … and it’s going to be hard. Simple as that.”
Looking around the room of mothers, fathers, wives, children, and other loved ones, Deputy Chief Mike Molloy noted the 18 recruits were among more than 700 candidates who tried out, and said that Anaheim Fire & Rescue veterans will be there to guide them along the way.
“There’s nobody who wears this badge and this patch who won’t help you,” Molloy said.
Captain Brad Hirst said there’s a new kind of personal support that’s a notable change from years past, when they had more of a “suck it up” attitude even after firefighters witnessed the human tragedy that comes with the life-saving job.
“There are a lot of challenges,” Hirst said, “and a lot of tough stuff that comes with the good stuff. Fact is, we have to be strong.”
In Anaheim’s goal to provide excellent public service, “We’re going to have to keep ourselves healthy,” he added. “That means not only from the neck down, but from the neck up.”
Interim Fire Chief Pat Russell promised the families their recruits will come home safe.
“Yes, they will be sore. Yes, they will be tired. But we do everything with safety for our people,” Russell said.
Russell added that the bond made in recruit training endures throughout an entire career. He noted that decades later, he still feels that way toward his fellow recruits. Russell urged them to forge ahead.
“Keep your eye on the prize,” he stressed. “You’ll be there soon enough.”
Ryan Kirrish is one of the recruits with some prior experience. He has worked for Care Ambulance Service at an Anaheim fire station, and has worked as a firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the Orange County Fire Authority.
“I’m super excited and super nervous,” Kirrish said before taking his recruit picture. “I want to perform well. Anaheim is known for its excellence, its super-high standards. I want to come in and meet those expectations.”
Cameron Trentini, a Huntington Beach High School alumnus, is another Care Ambulance veteran of the recruit class. He recalled a ride-along with Anaheim Fire & Rescue back in high school.
“Now, this is a dream come true,” Trentini said. “I’m ready to put in the work … and I’m speechless that I’ve been given this opportunity.”
Recruit Curtis Malloy comes to the academy with considerable experience. He has 19 years in the fire service, nine of those with San Bernardino County Fire. He wanted to transfer after hearing good things from Anaheim Fire & Rescue firefighters about their department.
“I’m here to learn the Anaheim way,” Malloy said.