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2 new Lieutenants and 14 new Firefighters Sworn In
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By Fire Chief Drew Smith
September 29, 2020

On Monday evening of September 21 the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District conducted a socially distanced Installation and Promotion Ceremonies

In additional to several of the incumbent firefighters and officers being present, Board of Trustees Secretary Joe Vertone, Deputy Chief Jones, Battalion Chief Olsen, and Battalion Chief Cossman were also present.

Fire Chief Drew Smith administered the oath to 14 new firefighters hired between January and July. The new firefighters, many of whom are already paramedics included Ben Carnes, James Zeman, Jerry Camardelle, Matt Villegas, Matt Bohnen, Jerome Brault, Randy Stennett, Michael Rossi, Ted Kupiec, Scott Moens, Reed Sincox, Kane McLoughlin, Brian Kirschbaum, and George Levterov. Each new firefighter was permitted to invite a small number of guests who were seated in groups separated from the other groups. Following their reciting of the oath, each firefighter then had a special person pin on their badge.

Two firefighters, Anthony Roma a 22-year veteran and Jay Gorecki a 16-year veteran, were promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Each will lead a shift’s company of firefighters at one of the firehouses. To be promoted each must have complete the promotional testing process and have obtained various education and certifications required to serve as a lieutenant.

Before the ceremony began Chief Smith read the following statement:
“Even before this country began the job of a firefighter has been part of our fabric. Benjamin Franklin founded the first public fire brigade in the mid-1700s. The civil war brought us paramilitary structure and the basis for our current ranks and uniforms. World War 2 introduced many modern firefighting practices while the space program of the 1960s gave us our first real protective clothing and air mask. The 1970s introduced us to paramedics, the 1980s showed us how to handle hazardous materials, and the 1990s led us into our role in responding to terrorism. What the future holds is uncertain. However, it is the firefighters who will always respond when the call is made. No emergency will detract us from our sworn duty to respond and act when life and property are threatened.”

The chief read the oath: “The job of any organized fire department is the protection of life and property against the hazards of fire, wind, water and other calamities to which property and human beings are subjugated at any and all times, fair weather and foul.”

After raising their right hand the new firefighter replied “I do” after being asked: “As a member of the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District, do you promise to the best of your ability to abide by all the rules governing this department, to obey all orders given by a superior officer and to be ready at all times to go against the elements of weather to help your fellow men when they can no longer help themselves?”

Then the fire chief asked them to repeat after him “Therefore, I (new member states own name), do solemnly swear or affirm that I will support the Constitution and Laws of the United States, the Constitution and Laws of the State of Illinois, and the ordinances, rules and regulations of the Prospect Heights Fire Protection District and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of a Firefighter according to the best of my ability.”

Following the firefighters’ oath, the new lieutenants were similarly sworn in.

“The history of the promotion process in the fire service comes from the military. The earliest known fire companies were that of the Vigiles of the Roman Empire, a military unit that patrolled the streets of Rome on fire watch some 2000 years ago. During the Civil War many firefighters served and much of our modern day structure can be traced to these practices.
In this tradition, the American fire service follows a paramilitary structure. The bugle is used to signify the officer in the fire service. This can be traced back to the early American fire service when speaking trumpets, or bugles, we use to communicate on the fire ground. The bugle was worn around officer’s necks so they could direct fire fighting operations, therefore officers were easily identified. Here at the Prospect Heights Fire District this tradition carries on with the use of bugles to identify rank.
An officer’s job can be summed up in few words, but the job is far from simple. Before all other duties, the officer must bring their company home at the end of each shift. Training the members, maintaining accountability and looking out for hazards are key to this success. The responsibility trusted to officers should weigh heavy upon each one. Officers owe it to their company members, their member’s families, and the citizens we protect to be the best at what we do. In order to be the best we must never accept “good enough.””

The ceremony closed with the Firefighter’s Prayer:
When I am called to duty, God whenever flames may rage, Give me the strength to save some life whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child before it’s too late, or some older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout, and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and give the best in me, to guard my neighbor and protect his property.
And if according to your will I have to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my family and my spouse.

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