For just the second time in eight years, the Fresno Fire Department welcomed new recruits to the ranks as 16 firefighters graduated from training on Friday.
The occasion marked the end of the 14-week academy that firefighters must complete to begin working in Fresno, said department spokesman Hector Vasquez.
Hiring had been stopped as a result of the Great Recession’s impact on the city’s budget. But Fresno’s finances have turned around as the economy has lifted. In its latest budget, the City Council gave the Fire Department an increased allocation of about $5.5 million over last year to boost its firefighter ranks and continue an eight-year program to replace aging vehicles and equipment.
Those sworn in were firefighters Rene Gonzales, Bryan Hamer, Jacob Henry, Matthew Kelly, Charles Morgan Knight, Michael Lombardi, Matthew Marquez, Chad Mezzera, Shaunessey Moore, David Polanco, Rhett Pratt, Matthew Rau, Alex Reid, Gerald Rommel, Ryan Sloway and Matthew Thompson.
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Fire Chief Kerri Donis also promoted staffers to the ranks of deputy fire chief, battalion chief and captain.