Fire recruit Bruce Toy stood shyly smiling before a room full of seasoned firefighters at Carson City Fire Station No. 2 on College Parkway, clutching Garrison, his whimpering 20-month-old son.
"I'm proud of where I'm going," said Toy, one of three new graduates from the Carson City Regional Fire Academy. His wife, Nancy, had just pinned him with his firefighting badge.
Toy, Kevin Green and David Larivee are the fifth and last class of recruits this year to successfully finish the grueling four-week, 180-hour training.
"Four weeks is not a lot of time to learn all the things required of us, so we should focus on learning and growing the best we can," Toy said.
Green, a former Texas firefighter and Larivee, previously a part-time Lyon County firefighter, will join the Carson City Fire Department, while Toy will work for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District.
The city averages about four academy graduations per year, as new recruits fill spots left vacant by retired or relocated firefighters.
Carson City Fire Chief Lou Buckley, who retires next month, was on hand to offer his kudos to the next generation of life savers.
"After 35 years of this work, I'm more than happy to turn it over to you guys," said Buckley. "This is a younger man's game. You are the best we have, and your experience and positive attitudes will serve you well. They'll sustain you through a lot of good times and some very bad times."
Green and Larivee will boost the number of occupied Carson City Fire Department personnel positions to 56, one more firefighter position remains open.
The new recruits will earn a $38,469 salary their first year. Because they have paramedic training, an additional 6 percent, or $2,308, will be tacked onto their pay, said Carson City Battalion Chief Stacey Giomi. Giomi will replace Buckley as city fire chief on Jan. 5.
"(The recruits) have done an enormous amount of work in the past four weeks. They've been beat up, battered and bruised," said Bob Charles, Carson City Fire Department training battalion chief, turning toward the three men. "Welcome to the family."
Green's girlfriend, Carol Hooker, pinned him with his badge and a kiss, and Larivee's mother, Carolyn, was present to pin a badge on her son.
"I'm very proud," his mother said, beaming. "It's an honor."
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.