On July 6, 2016, the New Castle County Fire Academy held its first graduation ceremony at the Cranston Heights Fire Company social hall, before nearly 200 family, friends and fire service members. The graduation marked the culmination of three months of intensive training under the direction of the Delaware State Fire School in this first-of-its-kind volunteer firefighter academy.

The 25 members of Cadet Class #01, representing seven New Castle County fire companies, received training in basic firefighting skills, structural firefighting skills, vehicle rescue, hazardous materials response, firefighter first aid, foam applications and CPR/AED, over a three-month period. In addition, the cadets were tested and received certification in NFPA Firefighter I and II and Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations.

“This is a great thing for the New Castle County fire service and will change the way volunteer firefighters are trained,” said Academy head instructor Ed Hojnicki. “Over a three-month period, these 25 individuals became a group, supporting one another in all aspects of the brotherhood and sisterhood that is the fire service.”

New Castle County’s newest certified firefighters and their respective fire companies are: Ethan Andress, Elsmere; Kevin Barnes, Elsmere; Robert Bestwick, Minquas of Newport; Shubhro, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder; Peter Bowers, Townsend; Kyle Brown, Townsend; Thomas Connelly II, Townsend; Kayce Corcoran, Cranston Heights; Jason Elliott, Minquas of Newport; Aubrey Eveland, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder; Christina Fague, Elsmere; Victoria Ferrara, Cranston Heights; Hunter Freeman, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder; Joe Groff, Minquas of Newport; Daniel Jackson, Elsmere; Jaydin Jones, Five Points; Samuel McKamey, Cranston Heights; Daniel McVey, Mill Creek; Davis Miller, Elsmere; Zebediah Miller, Townsend; Alex Place, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder; Daekwon Rollins, Mill Creek; Zachary Sharpless, Mill Creek; Austin Tidwell, Minquas of Newport; and Thomas VanGorder, Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder.

– DFSN story and photos by Tom Mitten