Hollister recruits ready to roll as firefighters

New recruits such as Morgan Churchill received badges Thursday night at the Veterans Memorial Building.

When 14 people marched in cadence onto the stage at the Veterans Memorial Building in Hollister on Thursday night, they were recruits. After they took the oath of office from Assistant City Clerk Christine Black and received their badges from family members, Fire Chief Bob Martin Del Campo was the first to introduce them to the audience as “firefighters.”
The graduates represented the first class to go through the fire academy in 2015. As reserve firefighters, they will be “on-call” as they go about their normal daily lives and jobs. Each completed intensive training at the 12-week academy where they learned the skills of first responders, search and rescue, fire suppression and fire prevention in the service.
Del Campo said after receiving their initial training at the academy, each reservist must manage and maintain training over the year to total 240 hours. Unlike volunteer firefighters, as reservists they are paid $10 an hour when called in. If they stay overnight and work a 24-hour shift, they receive an additional $100. By having a trained cadre of firefighters on call rather than working full time, the savings are significant to the city.
“The benefit is two-fold,” Del Campo said. “They’re getting trained and going on calls as they learn the job. And they’re providing a service for us at a low cost because we’re not paying benefits. They’re being paid a stipend and being trained, so when it’s time to hire we’re evaluating them along the way while they’re with us, and if they float to the top and out shine others, they’re the ones we pick.”
He said the work they do for Hollister is a proving ground for them. Past reservists have been hired by fire departments in San Jose, San Francisco and as far away as Las Vegas.
“Before I got here, there were 22 reserve firefighters working,” he said. “By the time I was sworn in, that number was down to seven. The others had left to work at other departments. As a matter fact, I hired one of them, Aaron Netzel, when I was the chief in Watsonville. He was a third-generation firefighter. His dad is a captain with Calfire and his grandfather was a reserve firefighter with Watsonville.”
He said of the recruits’ qualifications, “As soon as they get their badges pinned on, they can go out and fight on a fire.”
The 14 fire academy graduates were: Morgan Churchill, Michael Dariano, Joshua Duchscher, Justin Duchscher, David Gonzales, Gerardo Gonzalez, Oscar Gonzalez, Hannah Guerrero, Clayton Rianda, Edmond Rodriquez, Shawn Rodriguez II, Moises Lopez Sanchez, Randal Thomas and Thomas Weis.

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