Falls Fire Chief Joe Pedulla’s smile couldn’t have been wider.
The city’s 10 new firefighters had been sworn in and help was on the way to a department in desperate need of reinforcements.
“It’s the first time I can remember in the last 10 to 15 years that we’ve had a full complement of firefighters,” Pedulla said.
When two more recently hired firefighters graduate from the State Academy of Fire Sciences in Montour Falls in 15 weeks, all budgeted firefighter positions in the department will be filled.
“I’m very happy,” Pedulla said. “I have a shift, eight of these new firefighters are going into this platoon.”
The arrival of the new firefighters means that Pedulla will no longer have to scramble every day to meet the staffing needs of his department.
“We called eight firefighters (overtime) every day,” Pedulla said. “I’m glad we’re past that.”
Pedulla isn’t the only city official who is excited to see the new additions to the city’s firefighter ranks. Mayor Robert Restaino said addressing public safety needs is a priority for him.
“Our mission has been to fill in those gaps that have existed for years,” Restaino said. “We have to live up to a full compliment (from the police and fire department). Some would say that even with a full compliment, we could use more. »
The new class of firefighters is the most diverse in the city’s history. It includes one woman and three members of minority groups. Recruits range from their early twenties to mid-thirties.
And one of the recruits, Joshua Perez, earned fire academy honors.
“He won the Professionalism and Physical Training awards,” Pedulla said. “We’ve never seen anyone get two awards before.”
Falls recruits made up nearly a third of the Academy’s 36-member class. Their 15-week / 600+ hour residential program is designed to provide in-depth fire department training in an environment similar to a full-time fire department.
“I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of these graduates. They are well prepared to protect New Yorkers from the fires and emergencies they will respond to in their careers,” said Jackie Bray, New State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner. York. “They are now embarking on a path of public service to keep their communities safe.”