44th Fire Fighter Recruit Class Graduates 25

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The 44th Fire Fighter Recruit Class graduated on Friday, June 10, 2016. Courtesy photo.

The 44th Fire Fighter Recruit Class graduated on Friday, June 10, 2016. Courtesy photo.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department held commencement exercises for the 25 graduates of its 44th Fire Fighter Recruit Class on Friday, June 10, 2016, at the Nani Mau Gardens, Garden Court Restaurant in Hilo.

The new fire fighters are Kevin Yamauchi, Tyson Pili, Justin Lee, Tanya-Jo Moller, Keanu Bergfeld, Richard Peters, Maxwell Baum, Matthew McMullin, Joshua Hatori, Micah Tanoai, Justin Matsu, David Fisbeck, Kekoa Eskaran, Paul Umemoto, Timothy Frederickson, Neil Biddix, Anson Arakaki, Harvey Lyman III, Dustin Lopez, John Nickens, Francis Blas III, Anthony Kim, Jake Penny, Jonathon Ucker and Damian Sabater-Hart.

The class underwent months of intensive instruction/classroom exercises and fieldwork—fire and rescue training that included a nationally recognized fire science curriculum, wildland fire training, rescue operations familiarization, aquatics competency certification, hazardous materials response and driver training.

The end of their fire fighter recruit training was spent at the Emergency Medical Services Training Center, where the fire fighters earned their Emergency Medical Technicians Basic certification.

The entire EMT program was approximately 10 weeks long, and included four weeks on clinical rotations on HFD and AMR ambulance units around the island, as well as at the emergency room, obstetrics and intensive care Units at Hilo Medical Center and Kona Hospital.


Guest speakers at the graduation ceremony were Hawai‘i County Fire Commissioner and Former Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Yawata, Hawai‘i Fire Fighter Association Hawai‘i Island Representative Jimmy Pacheco, EMS Battalion Chief Lance Uchida and keynote speaker Dr. Kimo Alameda.

Each speaker emphasized the value of the training received, dependability, professionalism, safety, pride, family and being there for the community.

“It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” one of the speakers said. “Even though you have a job/badge, remember you committed service to your family, the department and the people and visitors of the Big Island.”

“Develop relationships with everyone in the department, as we need to always be there for each other,” said another.

“Learn every day, learn all you can and learn as you go along,” said another speaker.


“Have passion for what you do, have compassion for others and make someone else’s day better,” said another.

“We are here to serve, but remember to take care of yourself, too.”

“Always work as a team and give 110%.”

Training Captain Damien Hisashima, and Recruit Training Officers Fire Medical Specialist II Isaiah Halemanu and Fire/Hazardous Materials Specialist Van Medeiros spoke of the Hawai‘i Fire Department’s core values, stating that the duty of a fire fighter is a great honor and privilege that should be earned, not given out as a liberty.

Captain Hisashima reiterated to the new members to always go to work with a positive attitude, don’t be afraid to wor, and work harder than the next person. Apply the knowledge that has been provided and make us proud.


RTO Halemanu shared a message that was instilled in him by EMD Chief Lance Uchida: “’Knowledge means nothing if you are not going to share it with others.’ Challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday.”

He also expressed the appreciation that should always be acknowledged—”appreciation for your family and everyone for their guidance and support.”

RTO Medeiros expressed how the overall attitude and work ethic of the 44th class was excellent.

“Recruits were pushed hard enough to instill a sense of discipline and teamwork to prepare them for stress and high physical demands of the job, but also fostering a sense of compassion—because ultimately, that is how we should treat the public, with genuine care and compassion,” said RTO Medeiros.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario expressed his thanks and appreciation to all of the family members for their support. He emphasized to the new members: “What you do is not only a reflection on yourselves, and the Hawai‘i Fire Department—it reflects your family as well. Work with pride and passion. Remember our mission statement, core values and its meaning, and live each day with the appreciation of family, support and dedication. You are here today because of your ‘ohana and their support.”

The 44th Fire Fighter Class message was delivered by class President Kevin Yamauchi. He thanked the administration, his instructors and the families, because each and every one contributed to their success in becoming a member of the Hawai‘i Fire Department, he said.

On a personal note, Yamauchi thanked his teammates for their trust in his leadership and direction.

“The dream of becoming a fire fighter didn’t come easy,” he said, “but with the support of the families, the direction and leadership from the instructors, and the drive and determination within ourselves—we did it!”

Each of the speakers also addressed the families and friends in the audience, whose support and understanding helped to bring the class through the rigorous physical and academic training demands.

Having successfully met the all criteria of their recruit training, the 44th Fire Fighter Class was presented to Fire Chief Darren Rosario and Deputy Fire Chief Renwick Victorino, who issued their badges.

As is customary in fire service, the fire fighters then selected a family member or friend to pin their badge on their uniform.

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