There are a few monumental events throughout your career that will always stand out above others. Even though I may not have realized it at the time, the day I graduated recruit school was a very big day. At the time, I was so glad I was finally done with working day shift. I was glad that the structured days of having to work with our Squad to throw on our turnout gear to the stop watch. I was glad that I was finally able to begin my career as a firefighter. Last night, one of my very good friends was able to experience those same emotions…
I met Shane Lester in Indianapolis, IN at FDIC several years ago. He attended an event that I had helped organize for The Fire Critic and Cpt. Wines of IronFiremen.com at the Hard Rock Café. Several people mentioned that there were a few fellow firefighters from TN that were there. I made my way through the crowd and introduced myself to a thin, young guy who was wearing his fire helmet and a kilt.
Over the next few years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Shane. We have pushed each other in a number of 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs, a bond that is hard to describe. Anyone who has participated, I would feel certain you can relate to the connection that you get with your brothers and sisters who are sweating it out in a quite stairwell with. We’ve also had a number of leisure trips over the years that included a fair share of cold beers and loud music.
It was no secret that Shane got it. He understood the brotherhood. He is the kind of guy that will go against the grain if it’s the right thing to do, rather than just going with the crowd. He has a big heart, and would be a great hire for any department. Shane even made the trip up the The “Model City” and went through our hiring process up here…only to be told “No.” I kept reminding him that things would work out for him, and they did.
I’ve not had a lot of interaction with the Knoxville Fire Department, but I do know a few brothers that I have networked with that are on the job there. Last night, as I set in the crowd of hundreds of people and watched the Graduation Class of 2015 receive their diplomas and be sworn in…I was very impressed with the professionalism displayed by everyone in attendance. It was a top notch ceremony, and it was an honor that I was invited to attend.
After weeks of drills, PT, tests, etc., 32 brothers and sisters became firefighters last night. They will now disperse out various companies across the city to begin the best career in the world. I had the pleasure to meet several of the graduates last night over a few drinks in downtown Knoxville. I was sure to congratulate each of them with a handshake. This is a day that they will always look back on.
Congratulations, and welcome to the family!