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News Details

Fire department celebrates firefighters' success

by Heather Muller, The Eureka Reporter


The Eureka Fire Department held a ceremony Friday afternoon to celebrate the accomplishments of 13 of its own.

EFD Chief Eric Smith named Engineer Kevin Vorhees Career Firefighter of the Year, honoring him in part for his commitment to the preservation and display of the department’s antique steamer and hand-pumper.

Smith said Vorhees was also active in the annual toy drive, and inspired those around him with his positive and cheerful attitude.

Vorhees thanked his fellow firefighters for the award, saying it was “a real honor knowing my peers think I do a good job.”

Sam Rogers was named Volunteer Firefighter of the Year, but was unable to receive the award in person because he was still assigned to the fires in
Southern California, Smith said.

Rogers is a seasonal firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, assigned to the Kneeland Helitack Base.

The chief took the opportunity to introduce to attendees rookie Adam Bradley, who recently completed the department’s six-week training academy.

A news release issued by the EFD described the basic recruit academy as a rigorous program designed to teach new recruits the “EFD way” of doing business.

“We’re here to teach him the
Eureka way,” said EFD Capt. Chris Jelinek.

Prior to employment, new firefighters must be certified as both a Firefighter I and an Emergency Medical Technician I.

The academy builds on those core skills with a focus on teamwork and developing proficiency in EFD lesson plans.

“Our mission during this academy is to build our recruits’ skills and confidence while evaluating their character,” the release stated.

Skills covered include structural and wildland firefighting techniques, building collapse rescue, hazardous materials operations and advanced EMT skills.

Bradley comes from
San Luis Obispo, where he served two seasons with Cal Fire and graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in architectural engineering.

In addition to the Firefighter of the Year announcements, the EFD celebrated 10 recent promotions.

Firefighters James Flynn, Nick Launius and Mitchell Mills were promoted to fire engineer.

Engineers P.J. Lynch, Carl Gossien, Ken Weaver and Jeff Nicklas were promoted to captain.

Capts. Ed Laidlaw and Kent Hulbert moved up a grade to Fire Captain II, and the EFD formally recognized Bill Gillespie’s recent elevation to assistant fire chief and fire marshal.

“For those of you who know our fire department, you know we have been going through tremendous change,” Smith said.

The chief referred to a number of departures that left the department short of officers, but said the men honored Friday had “risen to the challenge” to fill the ranks.