Eight SPFD Reserves receive badges at Council meeting

February 29, 2012
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council met eight of the newest Santa Paula Fire Reserve Firefighters when they were formally welcomed to the department and public safety service.

Assistant Chief Kevin Files said the Reserves “completed more than 1,200 hours training” as well as year’s service with the Santa Paula Fire Department. He added not all were able to attend the February 21 ceremony. 

Mothers, girlfriends and wives - even a baby in arms - took part in the ceremony by pinning the SPFD Badge on their loved ones. Welcomed to the SPFD were Orion Caccese (his mother Jessica did the badge pinning honors), Arturo Casillas (wife Jessica and infant son Christian), Adam Hill (girlfriend Brandi), Travis Hines (mother Candy), Brandon Larsen (mother Stephanie), Brent Pinkerton (mother Barbara), Joshua Smith (wife Alexandria), and Travis Knobe (girlfriend Ashley). Fildes noted Knobe is a war veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  

“As you can see,” Fire Chief Rick Araiza told the council, “this is one of our largest classes” of Reserves, an “intricate part of our fire department.” And although serving as Reserves, “they are firefighters” in training and experience who, Araiza said, are sought by other fire agencies. “Over the years,” he noted, “we’ve placed many in many other departments.”

Reserves are “how we are able to keep our department manageable,” and they work full shifts, often commuting from out of town to serve. The present class “is the largest to date, although we have one larger coming up... and without our Reserves we wouldn’t have a fire department.”

But, Araiza said, they do move up: “At the end of the one-year training” Reserves are certified by the state as Firefighter 1, which “makes them even more attractive to other departments. We’ve had calls from other fire agencies, even from out of state,” seeking SPFD Reserves for full time employment.

“They provide a good service for us,” although Araiza noted the SPFD does provide training for Reserves post-academy. “Unfortunately,” Araiza added, “we do train them for others.”

Fire Reserves have the opportunity to “earn and learn” while building their professional resumes, said Mayor Bob Gonzales. Araiza agreed, noting the required one-year training heightens the professional status of SPFD Reserves.

“We hired 15 in January and had over 400 applicants for those positions... word is out” at the fire academies and/or college that the place to continue their training and build their resume is Santa Paula Fire Department. Because of their education and training, Araiza said SPFD Reserves are “in tip-top shape and are well-rounded individuals.”

Gonzales said that near his office he ran into a City of Santa Monica firefighter who previously served as a SPFD Reserve. “We have two in Santa Monica,” said Araiza, as well those now serving as “chiefs for the Ventura Fire Department that started in our Reserve program.”

Gonzales thanked Araiza and the Santa Paula Fire Department for their service.

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