For thirteen men standing before a packed auditorium, the New Year means the start of a new and exciting chapter in their lives as newly badged Rockford firefighters.
Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten saying the timing of the New Year’s Eve ceremony was particularly appropriate. “Exceptional day, especially a way to start a New Year, with individuals starting a new career with the Rockford Fire Department, and also obtaining the new ranks of Captain and Lieutenant.”
Thirteen men graduating to the rank of firefighter after 15 weeks of training. Six more being promoted to the ranks of Captain, Lieutenant, and Engine Driver/Engineer. All committed to a single word to serve the citizens of Rockford — teamwork.
“Everything we do in the fire service is based on teamwork,” Chief Bergsten says, “and these individuals that were sworn in today have developed a friendship over the last 15 weeks of the recruit class that they’re going to have for the rest of their life.”
Lukas Vucsko is one of the new firefighters. “Coming from the military background and coming here, teamwork was just always instilled in me, and its just reinforced going through the academy, we couldn’t have done it by ourselves,” he says.
And it doesn’t get any easier from here. Chief Bergsten says the new recruits will be assigned to Rockford’s busiest departments during their first year to get the hands-on training they’ll need to have a successful career following what’s been an unusually busy year for Rockford firefighters.
That includes the blaze at the old Asher Tool Building last January, one of the largest fires in Rockford since the fire department was founded in 1881,
Now these men are ready to join nearly three-hundred other Rockford Fire Department members who hold up a proud tradition of service.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” says firefighter Vucsko, “and we’re all eager and ready to go out and try to make a difference in the community.”
One firefighter being promoted to Lieutenant today is Al Granite, who is a third generation Rockford firefighter. Congratulations to all.