Proud families of many Salt River Fire Department (SRFD) firefighters attended a luncheon followed by an awards ceremony and swearing-in on June 22 at Casino Arizona’s showroom. The afternoon ceremony started with the Salt River Fire Department Honor Guard posting the colors, which was followed by a welcome address by SRFD Chief Dave Bunce.
“Today we will celebrate those who will and have retired from the fire department this year and those who are new to the department,” said Chief Bunce.
Photographs and names of the of firefighters who have been with the SRFD ranging from five to 20 years were displayed on a screen throughout the ceremony.
The newly sworn-in firefighters went up to the stage to take their oath of office: Jameson Pflugfelder, Brad Haggard, Adam Weatherbee, and Riley Murph. After the swearing-in, a retirement honor was given to retired firefighter Julian Martinez for being with the SRFD for 24 years. Martinez’s crew went up on stage to hand him an honorary firefighter axe.
Other awards given out were:
- Dispatcher of the Year: Marcy Thomas
- Rookie of the Year: first-year firefighter Chris Ries
- EMT of the Year: Eliseo Carrillo
- Paramedic of the Year: Joe Vesely
- Firefighter of the Year: Ray Martinez
- Engineer of the Year: Casey Kingry
- Captain of the Year: Melanie Lake
- Chief Molina Fire Prevention Award: Steve Wood, Robert Scabby and Nelson Wood
- Chief Maddox Award: Casey Kingry
Before the ceremony began, Chief Bunce announced some updates within the department: the newly purchased vehicles for the fire stations, a new radio system and other new equipment, and also the fact that the department is now an ISO Class 3 fire department, which means that the SRFD meets specific criteria that place it among the top fire departments in the nation.
Successful Salt River Fire Department programs include the fire academy, CPR program, car-seat program and training in the dispatch center. Another program is the shelter program, which will house those in need of emergency shelter services.
Bunce also talked about the newly integrated Community paramedic program, which will monitor Community members 30 days after discharge, a valuable service provided by the fire department.
Bunce, who is retiring soon, discussed how he is wrapping up his duties, recalling his last graduation ceremony for firefighter Explorers, delivering his last fire equipment, presenting his last budget, and being a part of this last SRFD awards celebration for him.
“I am retiring in about nine months, and serving this Community—and more specifically, the members of the fire department—has been the most rewarding experience of my 40 years of fire service,” said Bunce as he thanked everyone.
Several corporations and Community departments were recognized: Home Depot donated 1,000 smoke alarms to the Community in their effort to promote fire safety, and Stayshons Chevron was recognized for a generous monetary donation that was used for a garage door for one of the stations. The SRPMIC Information Technology Department and Mike Byrd from the Public Works Department were recognized for service to the fire department. The last to be recognized were the SRFD administrative assistants, who were thanked for all they have done.
At the end of the ceremony, the Fire Awards Committee handed Chief Bunce a hand-beaded medallion with the original Salt River Fire Department seal on it.