Two firefighters earn badges and shields at pinning ceremony

Laketown Clerk Amber Davis swears in two new members.

Laketown Clerk Amber Davis swears in two new members.

Two probationary firefighters were sworn in Monday night at the Graafschap Fire station as part of their pinning ceremony. Aiden Pathuis and Ben Draper were awarded their badges and helmet shields which signify they have completed the requirements to move from probationary status to firefighter.

Chief DenBleyker awarded both men their badges and helmet shields.

The process to go from probationary to certified firefighter is not easy. Both members attended the Allegan County Fire Academy in 2023, which entailed class two nights per week and every other weekend for 6 months. Classroom and practical evolutions consist of fire theory, search and rescue, water movement, hazmat, auto extrication, and other basic skills. They have a year to complete the academy and also some internal requirements with certain tools and processes at GFD. Both Ben and Aiden also completed EMT certification prior to their pinning.

Each firefighter gets to choose who pins their badge on their uniform. This is one of many traditions in the fire service that has been kept through the years for new members and also for promotions.

Another local tradition at Graafschap Fire is the cupcake display, shown below. Families and friends are invited to celebrate this important step in the firefighter’s career.

Now that they have earned title of firefighter, they can full engage in all training and emergency responses. Their learning, however, is not over. The fire academy teaches the basics and these two will be learning every day from industry publications, department training, and working alongside mentors as they respond out into the community.

If you think you have what it takes to be the next probationary firefighter, feel free to stop by the station, call 616-396-4060, or click here for an application. Firefighters are paid-on call and respond from home.


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