Proud night for Edgartown, Tisbury fire chiefs

Tisbury Firefighter Justin Lucas receives the Flemming Award from Barnstable Fire Training Academy instructors Capt. Joseph Mayo and Capt. Chris Beal for an outstanding test score. In all, 15 Edgartown and Tisbury firefighters graduated with Fighfighter I, II certification. — Rich Saltzberg

On the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 19, a group of Edgartown and Tisbury firefighters achieved a Vineyard milestone, becoming the first volunteer training graduates to attain certification sufficient to qualify them as professionals anywhere in the commonwealth.

The Martha’s Vineyard Firefighter I, II program — two years in the making — took place at the Tisbury Emergency Services Building and the Barnstable Fire Training Academy. Since September, 15 firefighters and fire officers have spent one night a week on-Island, five Saturdays on-Island, and five Saturdays in Barnstable, to train and prepare for academy and state certification tests. In addition they spent one night a week on-Island in unofficial self-directed study.  

The graduation ceremony was held at the Edgartown School.

The Rev. Stephen Harding, Tisbury Fire chaplain, gave a blessing at the outset.

Barnstable Fire Training Academy instructor, Capt. Chris Beal then lauded the firefighters. “They did an outstanding job,” he said. “It wasn’t easy …”

Edgartown Fire Chief Alex Schaeffer and Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling both expressed their pride in the firefighter’s accomplishments.

“You are now, more than ever, part of how we all succeed,” Schaeffer said. “We’re not only proud of you, we’re proud to stand with you as we tackle the future together.”

“One of the responsibilities of committed leadership is to build and maintain a solid foundation for those that follow,” Chief Schilling said. “You, the graduating class, represent the next level in that dynamic process as the new leaders in our departments, both formal and informal, with rank and without, it is your responsibility now to share your knowledge, your experience, and your enthusiasm, to ensure our continued organizational success and growth.”

Retired State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, a Barnstable Fire Training Academy director, gave closing remarks where, among other things, he expressed his respect for the sacrifices volunteer firefighters make, particularly on the Vineyard.

“What you have built in the last few weeks is the best foundation of training that you could receive anywhere,” he said. “But now it’s your responsibility to build the timbers upon that foundation and continue to learn, continue to be excellent, continue to be committed to excellence …”

The graduates from the Edgartown Fire Dept. were Lt. Khalid Dore, and firefighters Joshua Baker, Brenden Cooney, Brian Foster, Thomas Ignacio, Jovany Navarrette, and Edward Michael Parker.

The graduates from the Tisbury Fire Dept. were Assistant Chief Gregory Leland, Lt. Patrick Murphy, Lt. Patrick Rolston, and firefighters James Cleary, Justin Lucas, Morgan Reitzas, James Stinemire, and Ryan Welty.