The Wilmington Fire Department welcomed 20 new firefighters during the 42nd Wilmington Fire Academy graduation ceremony, held Saturday at Salesianum School.
They bring the fire department up to its authorized strength of 156 firefighters.
The new firefighters are Robert Alscher, Donovan Alston, Matthew Ambrosio, Sean Castagna, Jacob Cawthray, Matthew Chiodo, Luis Collazo, Luis Cotto, Dylan Cronin, Malik Golson, Dean Lambropoulos, Cameron Lucas, Keisha Moore-Davis, Jamal Pierce, Kurt Sarac, Antonio Scott, Gary Smith, William Spear II, Andre Wicker and Michael Wiktorowicz Jr.
The ceremony also included the graduation of 10 probationary firefighters from Chester, Pennsylvania, which first participated in a joint graduation ceremony with Wilmington in 2021.
The Chester graduates are Kenneth Baker, Ryan Bax, Zachery Felker, Joseph Hall, Erik Kallberg, Joshua Mason, Phoenix Murray, Mark Randolph, April Ziviello and Christopher Zuccarelli.
Special recognition went to Hall, who received the Academic Award; Golson, who received the Physical Fitness Award; Collazo, who received the Most Improved Recruit Award; and Lucas, who received the Chief’s Award.
What firefighters went through
The city’s recruits had to complete a 15-week training academy – commanded by Battalion Chief Robert Pryor, staff Capt. Matthew Marsella, Lt. Andrew Bowerson and Lt. Laurence Hinds – that included work in the classroom, on drill grounds and out on the street.
The 20 firefighters were among the 226 applicants who began the process last July to become firefighters. Upon completing the academy, each recruit attained national certifications as Pro Board Fire Fighter Levels I and II, Hazardous Materials Operations Level and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician.
The ceremony also included the presentation of badges and fire and the oath of office, administered by Wilmington Deputy Chief Gabriel Pabon.
“While you have learned valuable and lifesaving skills, this is only the beginning of a lifelong education,” Wilmington Chief John Looney told them.
“You must rededicate yourselves each day to learning something new and strive to attain as much knowledge as you can throughout your career. Know that those we serve in this profession count on you and your knowledge to help them in their time of most need.”
Wilmignton Mayor Mike Purzycki, who was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony, addressed the graduates in a videotaped message. “You have chosen a most honored profession and you are becoming a member of a fire department with an outstanding reputation,” he said.
“The accolades that this department has earned have come from the dedication to public service by generations of firefighters who came before you.”
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