Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services (CCFES) held a graduation ceremony for twenty-two recruits at Woodstock First Baptist Church in Woodstock, GA Friday evening, October 13th.
The graduation began at 7:00 p.m. with a welcome from Training Chief, Daniel Carder. Fire Chaplain David Price gave the invocation, asking for courage and strength for these firefighters to meet the demands of their career. Fire Apparatus Operator Jedidiah Martin sang the National Anthem during the presentation of our nation and state colors by the CCFES Honor Guard.
Of the twenty-two recruits graduating, Jonathan Venoy was selected as spokespersons for the group, addressing those in attendance at the ceremony. Venoy thanked the firefighters that helped train them and the support staff that assisted them in achieving success.
Four awards were presented to select graduates Friday night. Recruit Instructor Jim Laughlin and Sandy Springs Fire Captain Jason Anderson presented the Douglas Clark Waters Jr. Award to Gabriel Gilbert. This award was named after Sergeant Douglas Clark Waters Jr, a Cherokee County career firefighter who passed away in the line of duty in 2003 while serving as a volunteer firefighter at the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department.
The Pinnacle Award was presented by Instructor and retired Battalion Chief, Tom Pelletier. The Pinnacle Award is the highest achievement a recruit can obtain. The recipient is selected by the instructors, and this year’s award was presented to Donte Robinson.
The Jill Mabley Star of Life Award was presented by EMS Chief Nate Sullivan. This award is named after longtime Medical Director Jill Mabley MD, FACEP who served as the CCFES Medical Director for two decades. This year’s recipient was Aaron Moore, and he was selected for his excellent work during his Advanced EMT training.
The Above and Beyond Award was presented to Jalen Hasan, a Woodstock Fire Department recruit that participated in the CCFES recruit training program. This award is given to a recruit that not only exceeded expectations of the recruit program but demonstrated leadership and mentorship to other recruits within the program.
Retired CCFES Fire Chief and Cherokee County Commissioner Raymond Gunnin spoke to the audience and welcomed the graduates to one of the best fire departments in United States. He talked about how the citizens will need the best of them when they call for their help. “That’s why its important to be proficient in your skills” Gunnin said. He reminded the recruits to always have their priorities of life in order by placing God first, family second, and then the fire service.
Kevin Lanier, Deputy Chief of Operations, came to the podium next. He spoke to the recruits about how they’re joining the best profession in the world and that now they’re part of the fire service family. Lanier reminded the recruits that if they can embrace the CCFES core values of courage, commitment, and integrity, they’ll be in for a great career.
Deputy Chief of Support Services, Shane West, congratulated the recruits and told them that they chose the best career with the best department. West recognized the families of the fire recruits and assured them that our department is going to make sure that these graduates are given the best we can give them by keeping them trained and prepared for a successful career.
Woodstock Fire Department Chief, Shane Dobson, came to the stage to express how proud he was for Jalen Hasan, the WFD recruit that participated in the CCFES 2023-01 Recruit Class. Dobson thanked the CCFES Command Staff for the opportunity to speak to the group. He spoke to the recruits about their future and shared words of wisdom to help make them successful. “Your performance matters” Dobson said. He went on the elaborate “Your performance matters to everyone in this room, never ever forget that. How fast you turn out, how quick you get going, how much you train, how much you pour into this profession, your performance matters.”
CCFES Fire Chief Eddie Robinson was the final speaker to come to the podium. “I am the luckiest Fire Chief anywhere in the nation because I get to serve the men and women in this fire department,” said Robinson. He told the recruits “This is your ticket to the show. You’re going to get out there with these firefighters and you’re going to master our craft and serve the citizens of this community. I’m super excited for you.” He went on to remind everyone in the audience that we are an aggressive fire department and he expressed how proud he is of the work the men and women in our department do every day. Robinson recognized the retired firefighters, police officers, 911 operators, and veterans in the audience for their service to their communities and our nation.
Chief Robinson swore the graduates in as Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services Firefighters. The new firefighters then joined the chiefs on stage to receive their certificates and collar insignia. Family and friends of the graduates pinned the new firefighters with their badges.
The recruits graduating included Zachary Adelmann, John Bennett, Christian Brinkley, Charles Carter, David Gernatt, Gabriel Gilbert, Aaron Goings, Jalen Hasan, Dylan Marsh, Fernando Mateo-Aguilar, Kai Middleton, Braedon Miller, Johnathon Neman, Nathaniel Newman, Benjamin Rentz, Donte Robinson, Luke Stevens, Timothy Tedeschi, Jonathan Venoy, Owen Witcher, and Logan Woodall.
These recruits endured eight months of training and graduated with the credentials of Firefighter II and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician. They began working in field operations on Sunday, October 15, 2023, in various stations throughout Cherokee County.