The Salt River Fire Department recently welcomed new graduates from the 2023-2 “Heat Seekers” recruit class. With 39 recruits total in the graduation class, SRPMIC had a massive presence at the graduation ceremony, as 10 of the recruits will join the SRFD.
Joining the ranks of the SRFD are firefighters Damian Castro, Michael Diaz, Daniel Garcia, Alejandro Jimenez-Hill, Luis A. Lopez, Elizabeth Otano, Nathaniel Saldivar, Adrienne Scabby, Jayden Waterman, and Kalib Zaso.
During the graduation ceremony, the Salt River Fire Department Pipes and Drums marching band and the Superstition Fire Pipes and Drums presented the colors. The bands are composed of volunteers who dedicate many hours of their free time practicing the bagpipes and bass drum and performing their marches at many public events.
Mesa Assistant Fire Chief Cori Hayes served as the emcee of the event. In her welcoming speech, she expressed her appreciation to all of the families, spouses and loved ones of the graduates. “This is not an easy career; our recruits relied heavily on your support,” she said.
Hayes then detailed how the career of a firefighter is “not a job,” but a lifelong profession filled with dedication and purpose. “We want to see how successful you will be in your careers five, 10, 20 years from now,” she said.
Mesa Mayor John Giles was also in attendance and was invited to the stage to help celebrate the graduates and their accomplishments. “I may be the mayor of Mesa, but believe me, I am here for you all,” he said. Giles then revealed that many fire stations across Arizona work together quite often. “We all work together. I can’t wait to see you all again,” he said.
Following Giles’ speech was Mesa Fire Chief Mary Cameli. Rather than standing at the podium, Chief Cameli opted to stand in the middle of the stage to look at all of the graduates sitting in the front row. “Out of the hundreds of applicants we received, you [graduates] here tonight were all chosen for a reason,” she said.
A video training montage of all of the graduates was then played on the Mesa Arts Center auditorium screen. During the video, the graduates were shown completing the obstacle course at the Mesa training facility. The video also showed the recruits dressed in their full uniforms as they walked up flights of stairs inside of downtown Phoenix skyscraper.
“I am so proud of this group,” said Recruit Training Officer Captain Troy Walter during his speech following the training video. Walter continued to give the graduates praise as he detailed the many challenges they experienced as a group. Beyond the early mornings and long nights, he said he was pleased to see the close-knit camaraderie within the graduating class.
As the graduation ceremony was nearing its conclusion, invited guests were then instructed to find their graduate in the front of the auditorium for the firefighter badge pinning. It was during the badge-pinning ceremony that many attendees and graduates were overcome with emotion and began shedding joyous tears.
“There are heroes in this room,” said the Honorable Judge David Allen during his introduction speech. Allen was also in attendance to facilitate the official public safety oath as the graduates raised their right hand and swore to protect and serve their communities.
The 10 graduates will now transition from firefighter recruits to probationary firefighters as the group will begin working in the Salt River Fire Department.
“The dedication and commitment you give to your communities are invaluable,” said Chief Hayes. “Congratulations to you and your families on this wonderful achievement.”