Orcas Island Fire and Rescue’s newest members

L-R: Chief Kevin O’Brien

Orcas Island Fire and Rescue honored its newest members of the department on Feb. 11.

A total of eight cadets graduated from the training program: John Ahrens, Paul Carrick, Virginia Carrick, Sean Haugen, Paul Kintzele, Annalies Schuh, Tony Simpson and David Tribolet.

Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien told those in attendance that 80 percent of firefighters in the country are volunteers. OIFR has an average retention rate of 9 years while the national average is three years.

The training course to be a firefighter is 200 hours. It’s the same for the EMT course and some of the class members opted to do both.

O’Brien spoke of the students’ “heart, enthusiasm and dedication.” Assistant Fire Chief Mik Preysz said seeing the new graduates recite their oath and move on is “humbling.”

“We get to bring you into our fold. It’s an honor for me and the chief,” he said.

To become a volunteer – in either an emergency or non-emergence capacity– visit www.orcasfire.org/?page_id=16.