Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's regional fire department welcomes newest recruits

"You're about to start a career that many people are envious of," Deputy Fire Chief Don Byrne told the 16 men and women in the 2018 recruitment class.

16 recruits will now be assigned to stations around the department

It was a proud day for members of the 2018 St. John's Regional Fire Department's class of recruit firefighters. (CBC)

"For the colours."

And with that toast to their department flag, the newest members of the St. John's Regional Fire Department were welcomed Friday at the city's Central Fire Station.

The day is likely one that will hold longtime personal significance for the 16 recruits, said Deputy Fire Chief Don Byrne, who addressed the 2018 class.

"I'd suggest to you that in 30, 35, 40 years time if asked what day you joined the fire department, you'll tell them very clearly and without having to think about it," Byrne said.

Recruit Zachary Parsons, right, receives his helmet. He was one of 16 new recruits welcomed to the regional fire department. (CBC)

"You're about to start a career that many people are envious of, and I hope that your career is long and fulfilling."

Going forward in that career, the recruits should remember the importance of empathy, Byrne said.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the people you're going to deal with are possibly having the worst day of their life, so remember that."

Deputy Fire Chief Don Byrne, who's about to retire, told the newcomers to remember to have empathy in doing their jobs. (CBC)

Once the speeches were done the recruits took part in a symbolic toast — one the department has done since 1976, Byrne told CBC News.

"Historically we've been doing that ever since we started our honour guard," he said.

The recruits' toast to the colours — "the colours being the department flag in which they serve under" — with a glass that symbolically wouldn't be used again. The toast is made, the glass is discarded and the recruits become part of the force.

Recruit firefighters toast their fire department in a ceremony that was started in 1976. (CBC)

Byrne will soon retire from that force himself, and said he hopes that when the new recruits retire they can share his thankfulness for the opportunities he's had as a member of the department, and for the people he's worked with.

"That's the wish I have for you, that you can say that at the end of your career."

The new firefighters will be assigned to one of the city's eight fire stations.

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