5 area firefighters graduate SC Fire Academy; 2 take home awards

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From staff reports

Three Burton Fire District firefighters, all Marine Corps veterans, graduated from the South Carolina Fire Academy on Friday, Dec. 4, bringing home two of the three academy awards for excellence.

Two Beaufort/Port Royal firefighters were among the graduates, as well.

Burton Firefighters Nick Bekisz, Wes Theobald, and Mauricio Gallego and Beaufort Port/Royal firefighters Brandon Clement and Ty’Reek Scott uccessfully completed the South Carolina Fire Academy’s eight-week recruit school, which was made even more challenging with COVID-19 restrictions.

The firefighters earned national certifications in firefighting, hazardous materials response training, specialized rescue, and emergency medical training.

“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.”

Theobald was chosen by the academy instructors to receive the Pride of the Battalion award, given to the recruit who has demonstrated “Leadership, Integrity, Determination and Good Value.”

Gallego was chosen by his classmates to receive the Order of the Maltese Cross award for demonstrating its principles. The Maltese Cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying that he or she works in courage. 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.

“We are proud of all our graduates and excited to start them on their journey of serving our citizens and adding to the services we provide,” Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree said in a release.

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