The Boone County Fire Protection District is still 60 firefighters short of its desired 311 members after a commencement ceremony at the district headquarters Saturday.
Assistant Chief Bruce Piringer, head of the Training and Education Bureau, said the district hopes to recruit more firefighters because it has recently added two stations. This year’s second recruit class will begin June 20.
Thirty-two men and women from Recruit Class 2005-1 officially joined the district’s force at the ceremony. Nineteen were new recruits who completed 148 hours of training over the past four months. Thirteen were transfer firefighters who already had training from other fire departments.
Half the recruits must complete another 120 hours of training to be certified as emergency medical technicians. They will continue to receive training while serving the district, according to Piringer.
“That’s why we call it a commencement, not graduation,” Piringer said. “They’re just beginning their training.”
The ceremony was conducted by Piringer and Chief Steve Paulsell. After the men spoke, the new recruits were presented with certificates. Family members were asked to pin badges on the new firefighters.
Piringer said during the ceremony that he was very impressed with the new group.
“This is probably the brightest, quickest learning, most enthusiastic group of firefighters we have seen,” Piringer said.
David Factor, one of the new recruits, said the training was a good experience and a lot of fun, but he is glad to now be a firefighter. Factor, who is from St. Louis, came to Columbia to study at MU to be a paramedic. He said he wants to be a career firefighter.
“This is a great opportunity to get some experience,” Factor said.