A federal grant awarded to the city led to Thursday evening's installation of two new firefighters who will be on the job for at least two years.
David Brazil of Ceres and Brian Del Rosario of Dublin were administered the oath of service while Marc Maghoney, a Ceres firefighter since 2011, was promoted to rank of engineer.
Ceres Fire Chief Bryan Nicholes said he has one remaining slot of the six firefighters funded by the $1.2 million Staffing for Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. On April 6 the city installed new firefighters Kirk Aarseth, Hamilcar Cabusi, Jacob Clinite, Vince Diliberto, Parker English and Kevin Shaw. Shaw has since left the department. Diliberto moved out of a SAFER grant funded program to replace Will Dyer and Cabusi is replacing Randy Sullivan. Brazil and Del Rosario take up the SAFER grant positions
Captain Jon Goulding, Ceres Fire's training officer, said "starting your career in the fire service is not a simple task. We expect you to have knowledge. We expect you to have experience, then we turn around and train you and treat you like you have none." He said the fire academy pushes new firefighters mentally and physically.
Captain Goulding said the two-week Ceres academy teaches its employees "how we do things" and "is also our first
chance to evaluate how did at hiring new firefighters." Training included breaching doors, practicing rescues - including their selves - cutting holes in roofs, climb 105-foot aerial tower, put ladders in place and pull hose. "We even put them in a metal box, lit it on fire just so they could see how it would behave."
He said the "hardest work is far from behind them. What lies ahead is countless hours of training, testing, evaluation but most importantly we expect them to show up to work every shift and perform their job no matter what that day entails."
A 22-year resident of Modesto, Engineer Maghoney started working as a firefighter in 2009 when he served three seasons with Cal-Fire's Madera-Merced-Mariposa Unit. He holds a Certificate of Achievement in Fire Science from the Modesto Junior College and met state training requirements for Firefighter I, Firefighter II and Fire Officer.
He said working as a firefighter and now fire engineer has been a "lifelong dream." He thanked his wife for her support and "pushing me to be the best I can be" as well as the department and his children.
He has four children and eight grandchildren. Son Zion pinned on his new badge.
Del Rosario, 24, was born and raised in San Francisco and has been working in fire service as a volunteer reserve since 2013. He earned a bachelor of science degree in Forestry and Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly in 2014.
Brazil is a product of Ceres, having graduated from Ceres High School in 2011. He served as a Fire Explorer from 2011 to 2013 and completed the Ceres Unified School District's EMT program in 2011 and completed the Merced fire academy in 2013. David studied at Columbia Junior College while serving a two-year internship with the Tuolumne County Fire District from 2013 to 2015. Most recently Brazil was a Cal-Fire seasonal firefighter with the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit.
Brazil said it has been his dream since a child growing up in Ceres to work for the Ceres Fire Department.
"I'm happy to be here and happy to give back to the community," said David.
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.
Retired Cal-Fire fire battalion chief Leonard Shepherd of Ceres delivered an invocation, asking God to keep the men safe and give them "courage to do the right things" while on the job.
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.
Congressman Jeff Denham assisted the city in snagging the grant. A representative from his office was on hand to congratulate the three, as were representatives from the office of state Senator Anthony Cannella and state Assemblyman Adam Gray.