Capt Craig Freeman

Amarillo Fire Department: Rookies receive badges

Six rookie firefighters got their badges Friday in a ceremony in the Amarillo Fire Department’s administration building, marking the end of a year-long process to become full fledged firefighters.

Family, friends, bosses, and fellow fighters watched as the six men recited the oath and received their badges from District Chief of Training Joe Ward.

“To us, this whole process of getting a badge means something,” Ward said. “It’s tough. You really got to want to do it.”

Ward said after the rookies are hired by the AFD, they go through a rigorous, year-long process to get their badges. This process to become a firefighter includes a six-week boot camp to get everybody on the “same sheet of music” and a year-long probationary period involving written and skills tests.

“Once their year is up, we bring them down here and actually give them a badge because they’ve earned it after that,” Ward said. “It’s a tough year for them.”

This is the first time in Amarillo the badges have been presented after a one-year period. Ward said the badges used to be given to rookies after hey completed their first six weeks.

Capt. Jason Mays compared receiving the AFD badge after a full year to the Dallas Cowboy rookies getting the iconic star on their helmets after training camp.

“It does look awkward to wear a shirt like that without a badge for so long,” Mays said. “But when they’ve passed all their tests and they’ve worked as hard as they’ve worked to get to that point I think it’s going to mean a lot more to them.”

Andrew Sparks, 22, was one of the badge recipients Friday. He said he wanted to be a firefighter for at least four years.

He said the past year was tough, but the hard work really made him feel like he earned it.

“Now that I’m done with that I can start taking more steps forward and learn more,” he said. “I can enjoy my job, but, at the same time, I have more responsibilities, more to do.”

The other rookies who received badges Friday were Jason Brown, Chanse Valentine, Scott Stidham, Chris Westbrook and Ricky Jones.

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