As the result of a $1.2 million federal grant, six new firefighters joined the Ceres Fire Department during a Wednesday, April 6 ceremony at the Ceres Community Center. The ceremony also resulted in the promotion of six others within the department.
Ceres Fire Chief Bryan Nicholes introduced new firefighters Kirk Aarseth, Hamilcar Cabusi, Jacob Clinite, Vince Diliberto, Parker English and Kevin Shaw. The six were sworn in by Mayor Chris Vierra.
Congressman Jeff Denham and his staff worked many months to help Ceres secure the grant funding to hire the men. Denham was present at the event.
"We worked overtime to make sure this happened," Denham told the Courier. "I mean, it's essential. It's a big deal. They're going to fill some vacancies and promotions today that wouldn't be possible if you weren't able to backfill the other positions."
He said the short-term funding provides great training. Denham said grant funding will depend on who the new president.
The salaries of the six will be funded by the SAFER grant over a two-year period. Officially called the Staffing for Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, the monies are doled out by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant covers a two-year period and firefighters who are hired by the funds may not remain employed after two years if the city cannot find the funds to retain them.
Vince Diliberto was raised in Hilmar and graduated Hilmar High School before earning a degree in Fire Science from Modesto Junior College. He served as a volunteer firefighter for Hilmar and Salida fire departments and spent three seasons with Cal-Fire.
Hamilcar Cabusi, 29, was born in the Philippines and grew up in San Jose, graduating from Independence High School. At Notre Dame University he earned his bachelor's degree in Human Services and also holds a Fire Protection degree from Mission College. Cabusi was a Spring Valley Fire Department volunteer firefighter and worked a season with Cal-Fire.
Kevin Shaw, 31, hails from San Carlos and has an associate degree in Fire Science Technology from the College of San Mateo. He earned his Firefighter I and paramedic licenses.
Jacob Clinite graduated from Atascadero High School in Atascadero, a product of a father who is captain for San Luis Obispo City Fire Department. His grandfather is a retired Los Angeles City firefighter. He attended Cuesta Community College and transferred to Cal Poly where he earned his bachelor's degree in Agricultural Business. A certified paramedic, Jacob also worked for Cal-Fire.
Kirk Aarseth lives in Galt where he has operated a lawn care business for eight years. He attended Consumnes River College in Elk Grove where he majored in Fire Technology. Kirk was an intern for the Consumnes River Fire Department for two years and has been waiting a long time for an opportunity like the one Ceres has offered.
Parker English was born and raised in Belmont and attended the College of San Mateo for his firefighter Academy and EMT program. He holds an associate's degree in Fire Technology and a bachelor's degree in Human Services from Notre Dame University. While there Parker worked as a public safety officer.
Alex Craig and Dominic Magagnini were promoted to rank of captain. A captain is in charge of a station and all of the crews on the engine.
Elevated to engineers were Zach Fowler, Vince Milbeck, Greg Selvera and David Steenburgh.
Dominic Magagnini attended Columbia College and started his firefighting career in 2003 at Ebbett's Pass Fire Department. He was also a part-time firefighter with the MiWuk Village/Sugar Pine Fire Department and started working for AMR Ambulance in Stockton in 2005. He was hired in 2006 by Thornton Fire District. He has held the ranks of firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, training officer, EMS coordinator. Ceres Fire hired him in 2008.
Alex Craig is a second generation in his family in fire service, starting out in 2003 as a volunteer and seasonal firefighter in the Bay Area. Ceres hired him in 2007 and he still commutes from the Bay Area where he lives.
Greg Selvera started his firefighting career as an explorer with Ripon Consolidated Fire Department. He later became a reserve firefighter before becoming to Ceres as an interim firefighter. He was hired full-time in 2012.
Zach Fowler, the grandson of former County Fire Warden Russ Richards, started with Ceres Fire in 2008 as a cadet. After the Waterford native graduated from the Fire Academy in 2010, Ceres hired him as an intern firefighter and hired in 2012.
Vince Milbeck graduated from Manteca High School and attended Modesto Junior College where he studied at the Fire Academy. Vince served as a volunteer with Westport Fire before joining the Turlock Rural Fire Department where he served six years. Milbeck worked five seasons with CalFire's Tuolumne-Calaveras unit. Ceres hired him in 2012.
Modesto native David Steenburgh first developed an interest in firefighting after being exposed to an ROP Fire Science class at Downey High School where he graduated in 2006. He attended the MJC Fire Academy and graduated in the spring of 2007. He became an intern firefighter with Ceres before being hired full-time in fall 2012. His brother Chris is also a Ceres firefighter. David is a hazardous materials specialist.
SAFER grants provide financial assistance to help fire departments increase frontline firefighters, retain firefighters facing imminent layoffs, or fill positions that were vacated through attrition. The goal of the SAFER Grants is to assist local fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities in order to respond to emergencies, assuring communities have adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.