WHITMAN — For the first time in more than 50 years, the Whitman Fire Department has officially added personnel to its ranks with the swearing-in ceremony of firefighter-paramedics Zachary Baldwin, Russell Lucas and Jerry Thompson.
They now wear badge numbers 18, 19 and 20 respectively.
The Board of Selectmen convened in the Town Hall Auditorium to start the Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting with the swearing-in ceremony, accommodating a large gathering of the new firefighters’ proud families and new colleagues.
Town Clerk Dawn Varley administered the oath of service for each of the three before a family member pinned on their new badge — Baldwin’s by his mother Cindy, Lucas’ by his grandmother, Mary, and Thompson’s by his father Hanson Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr.
Whitman Fire Chief Timothy Grenno, who presided over the ceremony, later presented each firefighter with a congratulatory General Court Citation sponsored by state Rep. Geoffrey Diehl, R-Whitman.
“We celebrate not only three new members to the ranks of our great profession, but are making history in our great community, Whitman,” Grenno said. “Tonight, we mark history by increasing our shift strength to six members per shift through the generosity of our citizens — after hearing our plea, understanding the department’s staffing needs, and voting in favor of a safer community — firefighters who were approved by our taxpayers [through] last year’s Proposition 2 ½ override and graduated Mass. Fire Academy are here tonight to be sworn in.”
Grenno said the hiring process was meticulous. All three were hired off the state Civil Service List and passed background and criminal offender record information (CORI) checks before interviews before a committee of shift officers, local union representatives and Grenno — rising to the top of a field of about 12 candidates.
“Those top three are here tonight,” he said. “What you’ll see about these three candidates is [that] their work ethic and their commitment is second to none.”
Baldwin, a 2012 graduate of WHRHS is also an entrepreneur, founding his own business while still in high school — Lawns by Zach — that now employs about a half-dozen people.
“This is a guy who, in high school, decided that he was going to start his own business and his work ethic brought him down that road,” Grenno said of the Whitman native. “His success shows us his determination and his commitment to getting the job done.”
He joined Whitman Fire as an EMT and was in the process of completing his paramedic license, when he applied for the firefighter job. He has since become a licensed paramedic.
Lucas, a 2011graduate of WHRHS, grew up in Whitman before moving to Hanson, where he served as a call firefighter and worked as a paramedic for South Shore Hospital. He participated in the high school’s internship program at Whitman Fire/Rescue.
“Russ graduated high school knowing what path he would take,” Grenno said. “[He] was employed by South Shore Hospital as a patient transporter and that’s what got him involved in EMS.”
Lucas went from there to attend EMT school and becoming a basic EMT before moving to the hospital’s ambulance division and putting himself through paramedic school.
“Then he came to us,” Grenno said.
Thompson, a 2013 graduate of WHRHS and native of Hanson, took part in the high school’s internship program with Hanson Fire Department.
“That internship solidified his desire to work in the fire service,” said Grenno who graduated W-H in the same class as Hanson Chief Thompson. “Jerry became a member of the Hanson Fire Department as a call firefighter and put himself through EMT school while he was working for the school district in the maintenance division.”
After attaining EMT certification, he enrolled in the paramedic program, during which he was hired by Whitman Fire/Rescue and, like Lucas, completed the paramedic course during his probationary year.
“That just shows they wanted to get the job done,” Grenno said.
The new firefighters and their families and friends then went to Venus III in Hanson for a celebratory reception.