By Kathryn Menue
BELVIDERE – At 10 a.m. on Monday, April 11, members of the Belvidere Fire Department, Belvidere Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Department, Belvidere City Council, along with friends and family members gathered at Belvidere City Hall to welcome two new firefighters in their swearing in ceremony.
Belvidere Fire Chief Al Hyser opened the ceremony by thanking everyone for coming out in support of the new hires.
“This is an exciting day as we welcome Belvidere firefighter Danny Contreras and Ron Herman to the Belvidere Fire Department,” Chief Hyser said.
Contreras, 28, has been a firefighter for nine years. He is also a certified paramedic and diver. Contreras started his career in Lake Villa and Fox Lake before deciding to transfer to Belvidere.
When Contreras found out Belvidere had an opening, he saw it as the right move for his family and career. Contreras sees Belvidere as his future where he can build his career and build a better relationship with a smaller-knit community.
Being proud of his Hispanic heritage, Contreras knew Belvidere would be a great fit due to the predominant Hispanic tradition in town.
“The big part of it [joining the Belvidere Fire Department] is the Spanish community to join and become an asset right away,” Contreras said. “I’m just trying to get a traditional spot.”
The fire department is grateful to have Contreras join their team to help bridge the gap in communication.
“It’s nice to have someone in the department that can help communicate,” firefighter Burdick said.
Herman, 30, is excited to become a part of the Belvidere community as well. He has been a firefighter and paramedic for the past seven years, originally starting in West Chicago before moving onto Wonder Lake and now Belvidere.
“I kind of like the hometown feel of the community,” Herman said.
The fire department looks forward to Herman joining their team, since he will be an asset as a paramedic for medical calls, which accounts for about 70 percent of the fire department’s calls.
The two firefighters will start at a yearly salary of around $47,000 and will spend the next four weeks training Monday through Friday before joining the fire department on regular shifts where they will work every third day.
After the new firefighters’ introduction, Pastor Bob Kopp spoke of the work each of the firefighters will complete when on duty.
He referenced the Oscar-nominated film, American Sniper, as he compared the firefighters to sheepdogs protecting the vulnerable sheep against the dangerous wolves of the world.
“So Danny and Ron are joining today, this band of firefighters, putting out fires, and preventing fires; being sheepdogs,” Pastor Kopp said.
Mayor Mike Chamberlain also attended the event, welcoming the two new firefighters who will help serve the Belvidere community.
“We welcome you and we hope you have long and wonderful careers,” Mayor Chamberlain said.
With all of the well-wishes completed, Contreras and Herman received their badges as their mother’s came up and pinned them to their shirts.
Pastor Kopp closed the ceremony with a prayer, leaving the two new firefighters time to celebrate with their families. Both new firefighters had family in the audience to support them as they swore in to the Belvidere Fire Department, with Contreras’ family designing posters in recognition of his achievement.
As the induction ceremony ended, the crowd left to continue the celebration at Belvidere Fire Department Station I.

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