On June 25, friends and family gathered at Station 5-1 at 100 Weldon Road to celebrate the graduation of eight recruit firefighters. Selected among 75 applicants, the recruits have overcome a long and challenging road to join the ranks of the Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire and Emergency Services (WSFES) family as volunteer firefighters.
Over the last six months, 160 hours of training tackled medical training, vehicle extrication skills and live-fire exercises. The graduates have been assigned between two locations; five at Station 5-1, in town, and three at Station 5-2, at Ballantrae.
The graduation was particularly special for recruit Cody Leonard, a third-generation firefighter in his family, marking a first for the local fire service. Larry Leonard served for 22 years and his son, Chris is currently an officer with the department.
Valedictorian, Carlo La Duca gave a heartwarming speech thanking everyone on behalf of the recruits for the warm welcome and words of advice throughout their journey. The class always felt they had members to turn to for help and support, which they credit as a large part of their success. La Duca also thanked friends and family for their continued support and understanding especially when it came to missed dinners, holidays and those 3 a.m. calls.
Every recruit class is tasked with creating a legacy project, which is presented to the chief at graduation as a thank you for all the dedicated hours put into their training. This time, it was a wooden board mounted with an image of the class and a WSFES custom helmet. A collection of legacy projects is hung at one of the two Whitchurch-Stouffville stations, as part of an on-going tradition over the past five years.
Main photo: Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire and Emergency Services welcome eight new firefighters to the ranks. Back row L-R: Deputy Chief Wawyrk, Nicholas Chan, Johnathan Kirby, Cody Leonard, Michael Lillie, Fire Chief Renaud. Front row L-R: Shanita Veldman, Andrew Hubbard, Carlo La Duca, and Kory Carriere. Julie Williams photo