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New firefighters inducted

February 03, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

Nine men and one woman became part of the Hagerstown Fire Department's family during an induction ceremony Friday night at the Western Enterprise Fire Co.

Capt. Mark Cleck said the 10-member class was the largest to his knowledge that the department has hired at one time. The new firefighters place the department's overall strength at 74 personnel, he said.

"They came together real good," Cleck said of the nine-week training period that the new hires underwent before Friday night's ceremony. "They jumped all the hurdles we threw at them. They worked together as a team."

The 10 were picked from about 250 people who applied, he said.

Cleck said the firefighters were hired as part of the 2006-07 budget that the Hagerstown City Council approved. Each will be paid about $33,000 per year to start, he said.

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Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said before the ceremony that the department's new members will play an integral role as Hagerstown continues to grow.

"Safetywise, I think (hiring them) was the most important thing we could have done," she said.

The mood was festive throughout most of the night.

The new firefighters mingled with family and friends before the ceremony began, and gathered afterward to dine on a catered meal that included chicken and lasagna.

Roger Otzelberger was voted the class' most outstanding recruit.

He said everyone in the class has served as a firefighter before in one capacity or another - most with volunteer fire departments in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

The class started training Dec. 4 at the Hagerstown Fire Department Training Center on Bowman Avenue and finished Friday afternoon, he said. They were required to attend the city's academy to learn basic firefighting skills and become familiar with the Hagerstown Fire Department's protocol.

Otzelberger said the last few days of training were the most physically grueling because the recruits had to practice rescuing other firefighters. That exercise included carrying each other around, he said.

"We're ready to be out in the field," he said.

Otzelberger's classmate, Michael Muir, agreed, although he confessed to being a little sore after the last week of training.

"It feels like the truck ran over us," he said.

Mike Weller, the City of Hagerstown's fire prevention officer, said all of the new firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians as well.

And this year's class, besides being the largest in the city's history, claimed another milestone after one of its members, Deanna Glaze, became Hagerstown's first career female firefighter, he said.

"Firefighters are a unique brand of people who are dedicated to providing services to others," Weller said. "This ceremony is to honor our fellow brothers and our sister firefighters."




The new firefighters

The following firefighters officially became members of the Hagerstown Fire Department during a Friday night ceremony.

- Joseph Cambardella

- Timothy Gay

- Deanna Glaze

- Darrick Grose

- Brandon Higgins

- Tony Lida

- Michael Muir

- Roger Otzelberger

- Robert Petrunak

- Geoffrey Placek

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