New recruits at two Plateau-area fire departments earned top honors for their academic, physical and leadership skills during a regional graduation ceremony on Jan. 20.
Thirty-two graduates, now headed to 10 regional agencies, graduated that evening from the South King County Fire Training Consortium, which trains new firefighter/EMTs in the area. The ceremony took place at the River of Life Fellowship church in Kent.
Three of them — Mitchell Oake, Ira Holt and Shane Muncaster — are on their way to the Enumclaw Fire Department. The department hired them in August and they start working shifts this week, EFD Chief Randy Fehr said. They will each be backfilling positions that have recently opened up or which will be opening up soon.
Fehr called all of Enumclaw’s new recruits “top-notch” and was proud to point out that they are all veterans. Holt and Oake both served in the Army, while Muncaster served in the British Army during his time living in Great Britain.
“We’re a small agency; it’s not like we have a lot of firefighters, and we can’t afford to miss on a recruit,” Fehr said. “We believe that our citizens deserve the best firefighters. … The expectation is that they go in there and they’re high performers.”
Another three recruits, Matthew Cleveland, Austin Godwin and Jacob Johnson, are headed to Mountain View Fire & Rescue, which operates stations in Auburn, Kent, Enumclaw and Black Diamond.
Among those three are a veteran, a former professional football player and a former volunteer for South Bay Fire Department, Mountain View Deputy Chief Dawn Judkins said. She added that the agency has another recruit in the academy now and will have two or more starting in the coming months.
More than half of the awards granted that night went to Enumclaw Fire or Mountain View Fire & Rescue recruits.
Ira Holt, joining the Enumclaw Fire Department, earned the Valedictorian award for achieving the highest score (about 99 percent) on the consortium’s academic tests. Holt also tied with King County Fire District 2’s Andrew Langbehn to win the Top Rung award, voted on by fellow recruits for the recruit they’d most want to work alongside.
Jacob Johnson of Mountain View Fire & Rescue won the Marty Hauer Physical Fitness award, recognizing his high performance through a series of strenuous physical tests.
Finally, Johnson, Holt, Langbehn, South King Fire & Rescue’s Kris Clark and Renton RFA’s David Cox were all honored as members of their class’ “Chief’s Company.”
The awards are nice, but Fehr and Judkins both expressed the most pride over the overall effort and dedication their new recruits showed.
“We are very proud of the awards that the individuals received, but I’m even more proud of the effort that all three of (the new recruits put in),” Judkins said. “They all exceeded our expectations and were all very strong performers.”
Oake and Muncaster were close to winning awards from the consortium as well, Fehr said. Overall, he added, all the agencies represented that night will enjoy a good crop of recruits.
“The southeast corner of King County, they did clean house, but I truly believe that everybody that participates in the academy (are) a great group of people,” Fehr said said.