Nine fire service veterans on Sept. 15 graduated from the Cosumnes Fire Department’s academy and began their duty to the Elk Grove and Galt communities. This “lateral” class comes from other fire agencies where they worked for at least three years.
A few recruits also live in the Elk Grove community they’ll now serve. One of them is Firefighter-EMT Andrew Gossen, a Laguna Creek High School graduate who worked for Cal Fire before transferring to Cosumnes Fire. He’ll start his new job at the Elk Grove Boulevard fire station on Sept. 23.
“I’m just ready to get back out there,” he told the Citizen after his graduation. “I’m able to serve the community where I have such great memories.”
Another local recruit is Ryan Crowder who worked for the Wilton, Amador, and Sacramento Metropolitan fire agencies before moving to Cosumnes.
The graduates received their badges during a ceremony held at the Wackford Community Center’s Valley Oak Ballroom.
“No matter your reason for joining the lateral academy, we are glad you’re here,” Cosumnes Community Services District Board President Jaclyn Moreno told the class.
Family members were given the honor of pinning badges on the recruits.
“Keep your first family first because they’re the ones who support you through everything you do in your time here,” Capt. Robert Henkens told the recruits before he delivered the ceremony’s invocation.
Cosumnes Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez told the Citizen that his department’s goal is to fill 22 staff vacancies by the end of this year. He mentioned that the academy will begin training another class this fall.
“The goal is to fill (vacancies) as quickly as possible and provide great services to the community,” Rodriguez said.
Vaccines were caused by retirements as well as employees who transferred to other agencies, the fire chief explained.
The nine recruits who recently graduated from the academy had undergone two months of training since they are already experienced in the fire service. Rodriguez said they will start a 12-month probationary period.
“We’re training forever, but the first year is imperative that they really hone their skills down and they learn what they need to learn from the remaining firefighters we have and provide the best service to the community,” he said.
During his speech, Rodriguez told the recruits about the expectations of them at Cosumnes Fire. He also shared wisdom he learned from the “old-timers” in the fire service when he became a firefighter. The fire chief spoke about always being punctual at work and the importance of being an expert who knows every detail of their firefighting equipment.
“Never forget that your reputation can be established in seconds, and may take decades to change,” he said. “Your reputation has already started.”
The fire chief also noted they must be mindful in how they treat victims.
“If someone calls 911 it’s likely the worst day of their life,” he said. “They’re counting on you; they’re counting on all of us.”