SLTFR honors new hires, promoted captains with badge pinning
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue last week pinned badges on new firefighters and also promoted three to the rank of captain.
Each of the individuals would traditionally choose who places their badge during the ceremony that would include fellow firefighters in uniform, family members and city council members.
However, due to coronavirus, the badge pinning ceremony this year was more low key with badges placed while people were on their shifts. While the ceremony was put off for now, it doesn’t take away from the much deserved recognition said SLTFR Chief Clive Savacool.
“We have very high standards,” Savacool said and added that the new hires have gone through rigorous training. “This is no small accomplishment. They set a great example for the department and the public. They epitomize the values of the agency.”
When firefighters are hired at SLTFR, they go through an academy. After they finish, they are recognized at the badge pinning ceremony which represents their achievements and entrance into service.
“I am proud of all the new hires and promoted captains,” said SLTFR Battalion Chief Karl Koeppen.
Koeppen said that having the new captain’s position filled will bring more stability to the department being as busy as they are right now in the middle of the fire season.
Cpt. Brennen Davis was raised locally and is a graduate of South Tahoe High School, Class of 2003. Firefighting has been a lifelong dream for Davis. In high school, he completed a senior project on firefighting with a mentorship through Lake Valley Fire Protection District as a volunteer and a residential firefighter.
Davis has worked with SLTFR since 2004, where he spent two years as a reserve firefighter while earning his paramedic license and degree in fire science. Davis was hired with SLTFR in 2006 and has worked in every position leading to the rank of captain/paramedic. Davis is passionate about living life to the fullest and spending time outdoors with his family skiing, mountain biking and camping. Davis is proud to serve South Lake Tahoe as a captain paramedic and feels strongly about fulfilling SLTFR’s department mission statement, ‘Serving our community with compassion, professionalism and honor.’
“I strive to bring out the best in people, to make their day better, put a smile on their face and leave the fire service Cpt. Doug Bailey moved to South Lake Tahoe in 2002. He attended Lake Tahoe Community College for the fire science program. After he completed the program, he attended paramedic school in the Bay Area. Bailey moved back to South Lake Tahoe in 2006 and was hired by South Lake Tahoe Fire Department in 2007.
In the 12 years he’s been in Tahoe, Bailey has worked as a firefighter, engineer and, now, captain.
“It’s been an honor to serve the community I live in,” Bailey said.
Firefighter Jonathan Szendrey grew up in Southern California and moved to South Lake Tahoe in 2001. He graduated from George Whittell High School and attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics.
After graduating, he worked as a realtor in South Lake Tahoe as well as an investment advisor. He decided to make a career change and attended the paramedic program at Truckee Meadows Community College. After graduating there, he began working as a reserve paramedic and was later hired as a full-time firefighter/paramedic at North Lyon County Fire. Szendrey said he enjoys being outdoors, skiing, snowmobiling, and playing golf.
“I am extremely excited to be working for South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue,” he said.
Cpt. Mike Taormina grew up in Lockeford, Calif., a small town in the central valley. Taormina started the fire service when he was a junior in high school. He was an explorer for the Stockton Fire Department and later started working at Clements Fire District, a rural department near his hometown. During that time, he worked for Cal Fire for six fire seasons.
In 2013, Taormina and his wife moved to South Lake Tahoe after he was hired at SLTFR.
“I enjoy spending time with my family and being outdoors,” Taormina said. “Working for the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department has been a dream come true. I am honored to serve this community and work alongside some extraordinary people.”
Firefighter Leo Gebhardt is a recent graduate of Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy. He has previously worked as a paramedic in San Francisco and Oakland and on the ambulance in South Lake Tahoe.
“I am proud to continue serving our community as a firefighter/paramedic with SLTFR,” Gebhardt said.
Firefighter Kyle Printz grew up in Placerville. After visiting a busy Sacramento fire station with his father, Printz realized he wanted to be a firefighter at 7 years old.
After graduating Golden Sierra High School in Garden Valley, Calif., he enlisted in the US Marine Corps and honorably served for four years. Printz continued his education attending EMT and paramedic school. Printz has worked a variety of EMS jobs including staffing an ambulance as a paramedic in South Lake Tahoe.
“Working for South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue provides me with a feeling that I can truly make a difference in the community and help those in the times they need it most,” Printz said.
SLTFR plans to have a more traditional, formal celebration in the near future. All the new hires went through an academy and will start their 18 month probationary period.
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