Members of the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Fire Academy #15 held their graduation ceremony at South County Library on March 29. The 16 men and women, ranging in age from 16 to 42, began their training on September 6, 2016.
Jennifer Sexton, Volunteer and Marketing Coordinator for Roanoke County Fire and EMS, said the graduates invested 20 weeks and 270 hours in receiving instruction and practical training in basic firefighting skills, including building construction, forcible entry, ventilation, search and rescue, basic emergency care, and hazardous material operations. The academy concluded with a live-burn at the Roanoke Valley Regional Fire and EMS Training Center on Kessler Mill Road in Salem.
Deputy Chief Todd Maxey (retired) coordinated the classes for this academy and the graduation ceremony.
Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Chief Steve Simon was the guest speaker and thanked the men and women for their commitment and their sacrifice in serving their community. He also thanked their families for their encouragement and support through the many long months of training. He reminded the graduates that their training has really just begun and that “people look up to you,” so “represent Roanoke County well.”
Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall and Assistant County Administrator Dan O’Donnell also attended the ceremony along with many other county public safety officers.
The graduates received their badges from the volunteer chief at the Roanoke County station they are assigned to.
Four of the volunteer firefighters have Vinton connections– Trevor Ayersman and Bradford “Trey” Postles III, who are JROTC cadets at William Byrd High School, Joshua Dailey of Vinton, and Brent Townley of Mount Pleasant.
Ayersman is assigned to the Vinton station; he is a senior at Cave Spring High School and is also a cadet in the William Byrd High School Air Force JROTC program,
Postles will be serving at the Hollins Fire and Rescue station. He is a junior at William Byrd High School and also an Air Force JROTC cadet at William Byrd.
Dailey is assigned to Read Mountain Fire and Rescue. He is originally from Blacksburg and graduated from Blacksburg High School. He lives in Vinton with his wife and son and is employed by Kroger. He has been a volunteer at Read Mountain since August 2015.
Townley is assigned to the Mount Pleasant Fire and Rescue. He is a William Byrd graduate and lives in Vinton. He will begin working for the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Department on April 11.
Other graduates in Academy # 15 include: Emily Arrington, Michael Camper, Philip Casteel, Jr., Angelica Crews, Jacob Dodson, Carson Doyle, Christian Hanes, Christopher Hale, Jacob Hurd, Forest Kiger, Brandon Settles, and Tristan Thorum.
Lori Campbell (Mount Pleasant) and Josh Parker (Vinton) were also recognized at the ceremony. They completed a portion of the Roanoke County Volunteer Fire Academy course work previously and returned to complete the remaining course work with this academy.
Sexton said, “One of the graduates, Jacob Dodson, became interested in becoming a firefighter last year when he had to call 911 as his wife went into labor early one morning. Paramedics arrived and delivered the baby in the home. After the family made several visits to the fire station to thank the crew, Jacob became interested in becoming a firefighter so he could help in the same way.”
Dodson’s wife, baby Lukas, and family watched as he was pinned with his firefighter badge at the graduation ceremonies, along with the families and friends of the other graduates.
Angelica Crews was chosen as the Fire Academy #15 Class President and won the award for academic excellence for earning the highest grade-point-average.
She spoke at the ceremony and emphasized that the success of emergency workers depends upon working together as a team with a common goal.
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Cecil from the Read Mountain station closed the ceremony with a prayer for the continuing safety of the new firefighters.