Held at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, the ceremony honored the commitment made by the 13 firefighters and closed with the men taking the oath and being presented helmets.
Cartersville Mayor Pro-tem Dianne Tate spoke to the graduates about the history of local firefighters, saying today’s fire service employees do so much more than those who started in the 1870s.
“In the 1870s, 1880s, this city relied on volunteer firefighters. They were called reel or running teams; they were made up of our most prominent citizens,” she said. “Firefighters in this city are still our most prominent citizens. They are the men and the women you count on in an emergency to get to you quickly, the folks who make you sleep easy at night knowing that we are protected.
“Unlike the original prominent firefighters, our team … has to be in shape, understand many technical pieces of emergency response, coordinate with the county and be prepared to volunteer in regional disasters. They’re good guys. They’re dedicated guys. They’re trained guys. They’re the ones you don’t want to see in the middle of the night, but you are oh so glad that they are there when you need them.”
The group of men began the 10-week training course July 23 and is the largest class of new recruits the department has brought in since 1995. CFD Fire Chief Scott Carter said the process took a year and came about after CFD received approval last year for 12 new positions, with the 13th opening coming through attrition.
During his charge to the candidates, Carter challenged the group to “take hold to the honor of being a firefighter” and go about their work with “courage and humility.”
“There are three key things you must have with you to be a successful firefighter. The first is courage. … We learned that courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome fear,” Carter said. “… You have got to stay committed. Chief [Ronnie] Cowart has already said, ‘You cannot allow your minimum to be your maximum.’ …
“Courage. Commitment. That’s what makes you a firefighter. But, then, the final thing that I think you have got to have is compassion. You see, all of us want to make a difference. All of us want to have a life that means something. … You are going to do a lot of great things, but without compassion, you may affect the outcome for just a minute but it’s when you show your compassion that is when you make a difference for a lifetime.”
Falling under Carter’s charge and taking the firefighter’s oath were: Raymond Gonzales, Rusty Gwin, Adam Kelly, Daniel Lanier, Jonathan Loyd, Stetson Mealer, Adam Owenby, Eric Owens, Joshua Poteet, Joshua Pruitt, Corey Sutton, Casey Taylor and Dave Williams.
During Friday’s ceremony, Sutton was presented with the Scholar Award and Poteet earned the Top Boot Leadership Award. Class spokesman Eric Owens also addressed the gathering on behalf of the 13 firefighters.
“My grandfather was chief and my dad was a captain so it runs in the family,” Poteet said. “I know what I came from. I chose firefighting because it has always been in the family — it was something I wanted to do.
“Seeing the department and how they are, I wanted to be in a department that I could grow in and move up and better my career.”
CFD will welcome the first of the new firefighters when they report for duty Monday.