From staff reports
Lady’s Island/ St. Helena Fire District’s Joshua Gerde and Rush Riley were among the 21 recruits to graduate Sept. 24 from the South Carolina Fire Academy’s eight-week firefighter candidate school in Columbia. The firefighter recruits underwent a 320- hour training program of classroom and hands-on firefighting skills development.
“This challenging program requires commitment, passion, and dedication,” Fire Academy Superintendent Dennis Ray said in a release. “These recruits have successfully worked together as a team, performed extensive hands-on training with live fires, and passed intensive practical skills evaluations and written tests to meet the National Fire Protection Association standards.”
At the end of the training, Gerde was awarded the Order of the Maltese, an award given to a recruit chosen by the class recruits.
The Maltese Cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying that he or she works in courage – a ladder rung away from death. The Eight Obligations of The Maltese Cross are: Live in Truth, Repent of Sins, Love Justice, Be Sincere and Whole–Hearted, Have Faith, Give Proof of Humility, Be Merciful, and Endure Persecution.
Gerde also earned the Chief Robert Frick Award, given to the recruit with the highest grade point average.
The comprehensive training, offered quarterly at the Fire Academy, includes emergency responder first-aid training, hazardous materials operations training, auto extrication, flammable liquids and gas firefighting, rescue training, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Firefighter I and Firefighter II levels. Additionally, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were made to class structure and facilities to promote social distancing and recommended precautions.
The Fire Academy provides emergency services training to the municipal fire service – both paid and volunteer – airport crash rescue departments, industrial fire brigades and emergency teams and service organizations including EMS, law enforcement and military from around the state and the world. The Fire Academy is accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress and National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (Pro Board) for multiple NFPA firefighter levels.
The Fire Academy and the State Fire Marshal’s Office make up the Division of Fire and Life Safety, which is a division of the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
Above: Pictured are the Sept. 24 S.C. Fire Academy graduates. First row (left to right): Sergio Pena, Virgin Islands Port Authority; Emmanuel Guthary, Dorchester County Fire Rescue; Yoan Jacobo, Cayce Department of Public Safety; Troops to Firefighters, McCrady Fire and Emergency Services; MaKenna Young, St. Paul’s Fire Department; Mya Swan, Dorchester County Fire Rescue; and Timothy Holt, St. John’s Fire District. Second row (left to right): Rush Riley, Lady’s Island/ St. Helena Fire District; Peyton Stelle, City of Sumter Fire Department; Sergio Briceno, Pelham Batesville Fire Department; Joshua Gerde, Lady’s Island/ St. Helena Fire District; Logan Hiott, Walterboro Fire Department; Andrew LaPlace, Virgin Islands Port Authority; and Troops to Firefighters, McCrady Fire and Emergency Services. Third row (left to right): Lucas Richardson, Dorchester County Fire Rescue; Bailey Little, Van Wyck Fire Rescue; Darian Stokes, City of Sumter Fire Department; Joseph Lawson, Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire Department; Connor Finn, St. John’s Fire District; Caleb Riddle, St. John’s Fire District; and Brandon Cowart, Pelham Batesville Fire Department. Submitted photo.