The Waxahachie Fire Department started a new chapter with the promotion of four of its members and two rookies coming off of probation to become full members of the department Friday.
“We are here today to commemorate the successful competition of the probationary period for Travis Wade and Ed Konick. And to honor newly promoted members Don Alexander as battalion chief, Matt Dorsey as a lieutenant, Julio Hernandez as a pump engineer and Cannon Birdwell to captain,” Fire Chief Ricky Boyd said. “The determination and perseverance has paid off for the successful completion of their probation period and in promotions. They have advanced their careers and more importantly advanced the mission of this organization.”
To complete the probationary period it takes hard work, determination and commitment. Like wise to promote through the ranks it takes numerous hours of lonely studying by on the part of an individual as well as the support of the family members to allow them time to prepare, Boyd said.
The ceremony started out with Wade and Konick being called to the front of the room to exchange the green shield on their helmets to black. The green shield tells others this person is still on their probationary period with the department. The black shield signifies that their rank as firefighter and full time member status. Members of both family members assisted with them with removing and replacing the shields on the helmets.
This is the first department that Wade has been a member after graduating from fire school at Navarro College and EMT school at the DeSoto Fire Academy.
“The last year has been fun, hard and a lot of work but the pay off was good in the long run,” Wade said. “I am glade that everyone could show up and make it and see this good moment.”
Konick shared Wade’s feeling that it was good to be off of probation and to become a full time member of the department. Prior to coming to Waxahachie Konick had served with the Alvarado Fire Department.
“I have some prior experience so I knew what needed to be done. That experience helped me out a lot. I knew what they wanted me to do. So coming in and doing my job was not extremely difficult,” Konick said. “I like the Waxahachie guys here. It was easy for me to get along with everybody. I didn’t mind working hard for them. It is a good department to be on.”
Konick said he was looking for a department that had a little bit more structure, experienced staff and a history behind it and has found it here.
Following the shield ceremony three or the four members present were officially promoted. As each member’s name was called a family member changed out the badge on their uniform and the brass rank pins on the collar of their shirt. Then Assistant Fire Chief Randall Potter presented them with their new helmet. Like with the black helmet that denotes the rank of firefighter a yellow helmet signifies a pump engineer. A red helmet is for lieutenants and captains with a red shield being placed on a captain’s helmet. A white helmet is for the rank of a chief officer that features a white shield in the front. After each firefighter was official promoted they rang the departments bell.
“The ringing of bell is deeply rooted in the fire service. At the beginning of the fire service it started the beginning of the man’s shift,” Boyd said. “Likewise through the day and night when the bell rang it indicated to them that they had a fire alarm or a rescue to go to. When the different signals mean a lot of different things they are going to use the ringing of the bell to commemorate the promotion of these members.”
The first to come forward was Don Alexander. Alexander has been with the department for the past 23 years. Before coming to the department Alexander served as a commercial electrician. In his new role Alexander will be responsible for an entire shift instead of just one company of firefighters.
“I am thrilled about the opportunity and I am looking forward to it. It is totally different responsibilities. I am responsible for the shift and not just one crew but multiple crews,” Alexander said. “The main responsibility is to make sure that everyone comes home. That is the main goal. I have got a good shift. So I am just excited about the opportunity that I will be facing.”
Following Alexander Dorsey was called up. Dorsey has served the department for the past nine and half years. Prior to joining the department Dorsey attended college at Tennessee and at the University of North Texas. He then graduated from the Tarrant County College for EMT and Fire Academy in 2004. Dorsey is a second-generation firefighter with his father, Bill, retiring after 30 years with the Arlington Fire Department.
“It is a great honor. It has always been a goal to make it to company officer,” Dorsey said. “I feel very blessed to be fortunate enough to do it. “
In his new role Dorsey will be coming off shift and working in the fire administration office as an inspector. As an inspector he will conduction inspections of businesses to make sure that they are safe for both employees and customers to occupy. Dorsey has already started his inspection classes to obtain his certification.
Boyd then called Hernandez to the front of the room. Hernandez joined the department seven and half years ago. Prior to coming to the fire department he attended Tyler Junior College and served worked for an ambulance provider.
“It is an honor. A lot of studying when into it but I think that any of the guys that studied with me would have been great drivers. I just got lucky and scored a little hirer,” Hernandez said. “Now that I am driver I drive the apparatus every day. Then at structure fire or a car fire I give water to the firemen. So that takes a lot of hydraulic calculations.”
Hernandez said the captain is out sick or on vacation he will step up an serve as the officer during that shift. He added that he wanted to Lt. Brent Fuller, Capt. Dwight Banks and Capt. David Maeker for their guidance.