Lt. Mitch Kellar was pinned by his children Lana and Mitchell Jr.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Everyone goes home.
That's the mantra for Pittsfield firefighters when they go out on a call. They look to their fellows and expect a high level of professionalism and skill to be right by their side.
Three new recruits are now joining that brotherhood of firefighters and three others are climbing up the ranks. On Thursday, the department held a graduation and pinning ceremony honoring them.
"As you are handed your badge you are continuing the greatest and most hazardous occupation in this country. To date in 2017, 67 firefighters have passed away in the line of duty," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski told those being honored and their families in the City Council chambers.
"As a newly appointed firefighter or fire officer, the first standard you should set for yourself is a level of professionalism to which you will aspire to."
Those receiving promotions are Capt. Richard Jacob, Lt. Dan Aitken, and Lt. Mitch Kellar. The new recruits are Adam Healey, Matthew Kiernan, and Devon Whalen.
The chief has some advice for them. He told them to always treat people the way you would like to be treated, always conduct yourself in a calm and composed demeanor in an emergency, always perform at the top level of their competence, and be a true professional at the job.
"Being a true professional comes from within. It is not the job of the training officer to teach you how to be a professional. What they will do is give you the basic knowledge you will need to become a professional," Czerwinski said.
The fire service becomes an obsession for those who are in it. And Czerinwski said there will be times when "so-called brothers" will try to take that passion away. He told the recruits and those promoted to stay true to that passion and dedicate themselves to it.
"It is important that you develop and maintain pride in yourself, your company, your department, and the manner in which you carry yourself. You and you alone will set the tone for your future. Having pride in your work and daily activities will include your attitude and work ethic in the firehouse and your personal life," Czerwinski said.
Retired Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro said that passion consumes one's life but he asked them not to take that work home with them, especially after a bad day.
"[Pittsfield residents] are the people we protect and they rely on us so much. But our family is also very important and you can't forget them," Polidoro said.
"If you go home after a tough day on the job, it didn't go well for somebody on the job, we have to be able to make sure you don't bring it home. That's what your brothers are there for, to take care of that. God forbid, you will experience something like that in your life."
It is a brotherhood who will help each other out. That's what leads Polidoro to say he will always be a Pittsfield Firefighter.
"The brotherhood we have in this department is unbelievable. It shines compared to some other departments," Polidoro said.
The new recruits have already finished their training and those promoted are serving the new roles. Czerwinski told them to always remember those words of advice and be grateful for the men and women working by their side.
"After the job, stop for a second, turn and look at the face of your exhausted and soot stained brothers, acknowledge their existence and be grateful for their skills and camaraderie and remember that everyone goes home," Czerwinski said.
The short ceremony also featured the Rev. Peter Gregory, the department's chaplain, providing the invocation.
Jacob was pinned by his wife Donna Jacob. Aitken by retired Fire Capt. Mike Aitken, Kellar by his children Lana and Mitchell Kellar. Healey was pinned by Robert Healey Sr., Kiernan by Katelyn Krzynowek, and Whalen by Sydney Zavatter.
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Pittsfield Ceremony Brief But the Fallen Still Remembered
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
Director of Veterans Services John Herrera speaks at Monday's observances.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Memorial Day trappings were traditional: an honor guard at Pittsfield Cemetery, the singing of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" by veteran and nonagenarian Anthony Pastore, and an address recalling the sacrifice of those being honored.
But that's where the normality ended. There was no parade of veterans and dignitaries, no crowd at the cemetery. The honor guards and attendees kept their distance and some wore masks as well.
Instead, a truncated Memorial Day ceremony was recorded Monday morning for play Pittsfield Community Television.