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Base fire station hosts ‘unprecedented’ ceremony

Air Force firefighter Capt. James Hammond with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his wife, Ashlee, and children J.J. and Madison during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Air Force firefighter Capt. James Hammond with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his wife, Ashlee, and children J.J. and Madison during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Air Force firefighters from the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron were promoted during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021. New helmets, badges and rank from the left were for new firefighter Ryan Hartmann, Lt. Chad Engman, and Capt. James Hammond. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)

Air Force firefighters from the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron were promoted during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021. New helmets, badges and rank from the left were for new firefighter Ryan Hartmann, Lt. Chad Engman, and Capt. James Hammond. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)

Air Force firefighter Lt. Chad Engman with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his children, Cameron and Lexi, and wife Leah during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Air Force firefighter Lt. Chad Engman with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his children, Cameron and Lexi, and wife Leah during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Ryan Hartman, a new Air Force firefighter with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his mother, Vicki Hartman, and Fire Chief Jacob King during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Ryan Hartman, a new Air Force firefighter with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron, is pinned on by his mother, Vicki Hartman, and Fire Chief Jacob King during a promotion ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Monday, March 29, 2021.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 788th Civil Engineer Squadron never had this many firefighters in line for promotion before.

“It is unprecedented that we promote five firemen at the same time,” said Jeffrey Kitzmiller, the 788 CES deputy fire chief. “We normally only promote one or two at a time.”

In a ceremony March 29 at Fire Station One on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Area A, one Pathway student was hired as a full-time firefighter while four others were promoted to lieutenant and captain, respectively.

In Air Force circles, these events are promotion ceremonies, but they’re called pinning ceremonies in military fire departments.

Pathway student Ryan Hartmann said this is a thrilling time in his career.

“I am very excited to usher in this new chapter of my life and expand my knowledge within the fire department and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” he said. “I am very thankful for everyone who helped me get to where I am today.”

The Air Force Pathway Program allows interns to work in their field of study. The intern must complete 640 hours of work experience and a course of academic study, along with meeting qualification requirements for the position.

Andrew Short was promoted from firefighter to lieutenant, a key career step for him.

“I started here as a student/intern, progressed to firefighter and now promoted to lieutenant,” Short said. “It’s exciting because I have always used my experience to help the next intern progress to firefighter, and now I have the ability to continue this trend of helping others progress to the next stage of their career as well.”

Another lieutenant’s pin went to Chad Engman, a 788 CES firefighter who said this promotion shows him that his superiors believe in him.

“This promotion means that my peers and my management activity support my hard work and dedication,” he said. “Not only that, they believe in my decision-making skills.”

Lt. James Hammond was one of two firefighters in the station bumped up to captain.

“To be promoted to captain in one of the leading (Department of Defense) fire departments is the greatest accomplishment of my career,” he said. “I look forward to this new adventure and I’m excited to see what it brings. I have comfort in knowing that I will have a strong group and experienced leadership to help with any questions or situations that may arise.”

The ceremony’s last pin went to Lt. Gregory Arnold, who also picked up the rank of captain.

“We truly have a great team that is highly skilled and highly dedicated,” he said. “It’s a great honor and I am very humbled to be given this opportunity.”

During the ceremony, each firefighter received a new badge and helmet from friends and family members.

“We like to include family members as part of the ceremony, because the family sacrifices a lot, due to our 48 hours on, 72 hours off work schedule,” Kitzmiller said.