After training for three months, two dozen recruits donned their well starched and crisp uniforms and received certificates as full-fledged firefighters at a ceremony held this morning at the Fire Department in Belize City. They all had their personal stories on why they chose to take on the risky career. And among their ranks we found a brave woman who set her heart and mind to be a firefighter. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
The next generation of firefighters graduated today after months of training. While the process has been rigorous, the twenty-four recruits are now well prepared to take on the dangerous job of battling blazes and saving lives.
Newton Lennan, Leading Firefighter, National Fire Service
“The recruits learned basic firefighting techniques, which included courses such as lifting techniques, hose construction, building construction, use of pumps, ladders, managing fire streams and fire behavior and also first aid to name a few.”
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Rural Development & National Emergency Mgmt
“In the field you were put through the difficult test of managing and navigating an obstacle course and the challenging task of dealing with fires in high rises, many of which we are now seeing in Belize and working in confined spaces as well as dealing with accident situations. The training covered the NFPA, the National Fire Protection Agency Standard 1001, which tested your mental and physical capacity in stages throughout the course to ensure competence and ability in firefighting.”
At the top of the graduating class was valedictorian, Adam Lumsden, who had prior experience as a volunteer firefighter in Benque Viejo, but almost did not make it into the initial selection of recruits.
Adam Lumsden, Valedictorian, National Fire Service Recruits
“I heard that the training was happening and I sent in my application form and I didn’t even receive a call because usually you leave your number and they call you back. And a fellow, Mr. Aguirre who also applied, the guy that came in fourth, he applied and he got a call. So I was worried, I said I’m ready and this and that so why didn’t they call me. Thereafter, I borrowed my OIC’s phone, Mr. Longsworth phone and I called Mr. Orin Smith, the training officer and he told me to show up here for the interview and maybe I get lucky.”
While luck got him into the training, hard work got him to the end. The same can be said about Goldburn Martinez, the salutatorian among the graduates. But he attributes his success to a higher power.
Goldburn Martinez, Salutatorian, National Fire Service Recruits
“Well, it was a challenge both mentally, physically and spiritually but at the end of the day I just give thanks to di father, the almighty that he has given me the strength to overcome.”
“Why did you decide to join the Fire Department?”
“From when I was a child I had a passion to be a firefighter and I know that I have great potential and different skills and I know that I will become the best and I only aim for being the best.”
There’s also a single female in the mix; Shernadine Dennison survived the same grueling training that the men did and was proud to officially become a firefighter today.
Shernadine Dennison, Recruit, National Fire Service
“It was vigorous to be honest but I came here, with the hope to fight fires and at the first day, I realized that it was far more than that. We had to go through a lot of exercises, a lot of physicals that I was not expecting. Prior to this I’ve never been physical before and in the beginning I told myself these twenty-three guys can do it, I can do it. I can be the third female in Belize City to become a firefighter. My advice to other women who might want to join is that you have to prepare your heart; you have to prepare your mind because it’s not fun. But if your heart is in the right place, you can do anything.”
The feat these recruits have accomplished as well as the standards upheld in the training were recognized by Minister Godwin Hulse.
“I understand you are a group of twenty-four from eighty-six who applied originally. This represents twenty-eight percent of the perspective group. This shows that you are the best of those and had the capacity to survive the training. It speaks well also to the department head, the fire chief and his staff that indeed the standard of rigorous training and discipline has in fact been maintained and the standard has not been lowered in any way to accommodate those who cannot reach the level.”
The new firefighters did a simulation of extinguishing a blaze and rescuing an injured person to give family, friends and officials a glimpse of what they have learned. Delahnie Bain for News Five.
The new firefighters will be returning to their respective districts for duties.