ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
The volunteer firefighters of Boone County Fire District #2 collectively take their Oath of Office.

By Anne Eickstadt

Editor

Boone County Fire District #2 planned to hold a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. during which 15 volunteer firefighters would receive their department badges.

The ceremony was delayed because the department was called out to a fire shortly before the ceremony was to begin. The guests arrived to find a single person manning the station. After a time, they received word that the ceremony would begin at 7 p.m. instead. Then it was delayed until 7:30 p.m.

Such is the life of volunteer firefighters and their friends and loved ones.

“Some of the firefighters have been with us for a while and a couple of them are pretty new,” said Chief Kent Hulett. “We haven’t held a badge ceremony for a couple of years. Firefighters always remember benchmarks: when we got our badges, promotions, and, hopefully, retirement.

“The guys miss meals, family events, and holidays. Volunteer firefighters receive very little recompense for their hard work. Public service is a very high calling and firefighting is labor intensive and very dangerous.

“Today is a good example of that. We were called away to a barn fire. There were explosions from gas, oil, tires, and other contents of the barn. I did not let any of your loved ones go inside. I want everyone to go home safely. We, as a district, try to make it a safe job.”

The following members of the department are newer members who were to be honored at the badge pinning ceremony: Firefighters Andy Burza, Ben Clausing, Josh Dummer, Malorie Fahey, Cody Fowler, Andrew Geyer, Colton Gritzmacher, Kyle Kampert, Pat Kirane, Alyssa Schiro, RJ Schwegler, Luke Spradling, Troy Vandenbroek, Probationary Firefighter Jeremy Adams, and Probationary Firefighter Carwin Rayphole, Jr.

“What does this badge mean to me?” said Firefighter Alyssa Schiro. “It means a lot to me. I worked really hard for it. It represents a commitment to the community. I want to make a difference in my community.

“I am proud of this accomplishment. It means I am part of the group. I am on this team. I am a full-blown member of the team.”

When complimented on the firefighter’s dress uniform hat a small boy was wearing, he grinned and placed it on his father’s head. He then showed off his father’s new badge. “Is that your father’s badge?” He nodded. “Should I ask him about it?” Another nod. “Okay.” He grinned.

“This badge is a sign of respect,” Probationary Firefighter Jeremy Adams (the boy’s father) said. “I have always respected it. It is a sign of respect for each other.”

Firefighter Ben Clausing, said, “It signifies being part of the team. It’s your number. It gives you your place on the team.

“I’m happy to have it. We got our black helmets to signify the end of our initial training. The badge adds to that.”

The volunteer firefighters come from many different professions and walks of life. Some of them were unable to attend the ceremony and will receive their badges at another time. All have made the decision to serve the community despite the disruptions in their lives caused by responding to emergency calls.

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen! And thank you!