Shane Cavolt and Daniel Martinez were sworn in as Ceres' newest firefighters on Friday evening.
Both men have been on the job since early October, said Ceres Battalion Chief Rich Scola, with their salaries being paid for by a federal grant. The two, he said, began working a regular 48-hour shift with what the department calls a "shadow person as opposed to a more traditional entry-level fire academy."
"They worked as part of their assigned group, responding to fires and other emergency on day one without any formal training from us," said Scola. "Thanks to their previous experience both in the fire and EMS professions, they progressed quickly and were able to show their abilities and competence to perform without the shadow in less than two months. That's less than 20 shifts that they worked with us and were able to perform on their own."
The new firefighters passed their first test and will be tested again at the six-, nine- and 11-month intervals on various techniques, policies, procedures and general knowledge.
"I'm very confident that both have shown the dedication needed to successfully pass all of their remaining tests," said Scola.
Cavolt, 39, is a certified paramedic and hazardous waste specialist who had experience at the Roseville and Winters fire departments. His father was a Roseville Fire captain and his brother works for the Rialto Fire Department. He commutes from the Sacramento-Roseville area where he lives with his girlfriend and three daughters. Scola said Cavolt is a very motivated person to always do his best.
He also teaches at the Sierra College EMT School.
Martinez, 27, spent the last seven years as a certified paramedic and worked for American Medical Response (AMR). Daniel grew up in Ceres, the son of Domingo and Colleen Martinez. Scola said Martinez has a strong sense of community and a desire to "serve the community he calls home."
He and his wife Courtney have a son and another child on the way.
Following the swearing-in of the two firefighters by Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra, Ceres Fire Chief Bryan Nicholes honored three employees for an incident that occurred during a mutual aid call in Modesto. He said that last year his department responded to 5,800 calls, mostly medical aid calls, vehicle accidents, rescues and fires, with rarely making headlines or with employees being recognized. But he singled out Captain Dominic Magagnini, engineer Jeremy Hackett and firefighter Brian Del Rosario for honors relating to a duplex fire in the 500 block of Riverside Drive in Modesto on Oct. 7. Ceres responded and helped cut two ventilation holes in the roof to allow the hot gasses and smoke to escape when Magagnini fell through the roof. He threw out his arms to catch his fall with his chest at about the same level as the shingles. Magagnini issued a "may day" call with his crew coming to his aid to get him off the roof. A countywide Serious Accident Review Team (SART) looked into the incident. As a member, Scola wrote Nicholes that he was impressed with Del Rosario's recollection of the details, including his knowledge that the roof was crumbling and he knew the risk he took to rescue Magagnini. Scola wrote of Del Rosario: "For a firefighter with only three months' of experience and limited life experience, he showed the maturity of a veteran."
Scola said Hackett was not only "fully honest with all of the investigators on the scene, but also understood the severe risk that he was taking and even had the thought that went through his mind that to get Del Rosario himself off to safety he honestly felt that he and his captain were going to go down through the hole and at least one of his crew could survive without injury."
Nicholes said "right or wrong, his actions were not just heroic but selfless. These two went far beyond their duty to save one of their own. They had absolutely no time to think and they reacted without regard for themselves."
The chief presented what was the department's first-ever medal for bravery to Magagnini for "exhibiting courage and disregard for personal safety in an effort to save another."
A medal of valor was presented to both Hackett and Del Rosario.
Magagnini said he knows both men "put themselves at risk of falling through that roof to ensure that I made it home to my family." He thanked both men and said they represent the brotherhood of firefighters.
"I cannot tell you how proud I am of my brothers for their actions that day on the roof," said Magagnini. "Their composure, courage and professionalism are something we can all be proud of. A lot of things went wrong that day and a whole lot more went right. We are very lucky that we got off as easy as we did. We learned a lot that day; not only about ourselves but the things we as a department can do better. We hope everyone can learn from our incident and become safer because of it."
Retired CDF fire battalion Chief Leonard Shepherd said he "adopted the best dog gone fire department in the county of Stanislaus and one of the best in the state" before he delivered the invocation.