7 firefighters 'pinned'

From left, Nick Martini, Mark Otte, Grant Howell, Heston Hughes, Brian Meyer, Mark Guttridge, and Robert Honaker.

Training complete, (experienced) Covington hires take oath, start work

COVINGTON, Ky. – Covington has seven new (experienced) firefighters.

Having completed 10 weeks of in-house training, the seven were officially “pinned” with their Covington Fire Department badges late this afternoon in a ceremony at City Hall well-attended by their families and colleagues.

All seven arrived with experience from other fire departments, and they took their final “exam” yesterday.

“You did it,” Fire Chief Mark Pierce told the seven. “There were probably times during the 10 weeks when you were sweating it, questioning whether you were doing the right thing … but you can now say, ‘I’m way better now than when I started.’ ”

Four of the new hires hold the position of firefighter/paramedics. Three are firefighter/EMTs. None of the positions are new; rather, they were positions left vacant by recent retirements.

Lt. Jimmy Adams, who with Assistant Chief Mike Bloemer oversaw the training, said it included a wide variety of refresher skills (including primary EMS functions and 40 different fires at the training field off of Boron Drive); a review of Covington’s streets and layout, rules and regulations; and nuances that come with fighting fires in an urban environment.

For example, Adams said, in a suburban neighborhood, firefighters laying hose while responding to a house fire might have what’s essentially a straight shot to the fire across a wide yard, whereas on one of Covington’s tighter streets, firefighters might have to work around bumper-to-bumper parked cars, a wrought-iron fence, telephone poles, and other obstacles.

Since water-filled hoses are rigid (they can’t be piled up like coils in a rope), you have to be strategic about how you get a hose from a pumper or a hydrant to the fire, he said.

“So in those exercises we kept throwing an increasing number of obstacles at them,” Adams told family members. “Essentially, we were teaching them how to be urban firefighters. This class set records (with the hard-core physical tests), and it had more heart than any class I’ve ever seen.”

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, who issued the oath of office, spoke from the perspective of both mayor and the son of a firefighter, telling the firefighters they were the face of Covington to many people and telling the families the critical role they needed to play in support.

“They can’t do the job without you,” he said.

The seven:

·      Firefighter/paramedic Mark Guttridge.

·      Firefighter/paramedic Robert Honaker.

·      Firefighter/paramedic Grant Howell.

·      Firefighter/EMT Heston Hughes.

·      Firefighter/paramedic Nick Martini.

·      Firefighter/EMT Brian Meyer.

·      Firefighter/EMT Mark Otte.

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