Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus attended the County’s Firefighter 1 September graduation ceremony on Tuesday night, Sept. 1, at the County’s Fire Training Center in Goshen.
Neuhaus was joined at the graduation by Orange County Commissioner of Emergency Services Brendan Casey, Deputy Commissioner of Fire Services Vini Tankasali, Orange County Fire Training Chief Jim McCann, Assistant District Attorney Chris Borek and Deputy County Clerk Kelly Eskew.
“It takes dedication and commitment to become a firefighter, and I’m proud to honor the accomplishments of this class,” Neuhaus said. “Congratulations to the graduates, along with the training instructors and participating fire departments on another successful program. These brave men and women have made a commitment to public service and have shown a willingness to risk their own lives to save others, which is admirable and should be acknowledged by all.”
The Firefighter 1 graduating class consisted of 21 residents from 15 County Fire Departments. Firefighter 1 is a comprehensive and intensive introductory course required to become an interior firefighter.
The course is comprised of 129 classroom hours and additional take home assignments. Courses were taught by Orange County Fire Instructors at the county’s Fire Training Center in New Hampton and entailed lectures and hands-on training sessions.
“We are proud of this year’s Firefighter 1 class and the commitment they have made to their communities,” Tankasali said. “The completion of this course illustrates the selfless dedication of each of the graduates and their belief in service to others. I offer my congratulations and best wishes as well as my gratitude to them all.”
Tuesday night marked the first official public appearance of Tankasali after a long battle with COVID-19. Tankasali was introduced by Neuhaus at the graduation and received a warm response from the crowd. Tankasali was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late-March and subsequently spent 10 weeks in the hospital.
The father of a one-year-old boy, Tankasali endured life-threatening complications and is still recovering. However, he is working again. Tankasali is grateful to be back and said he was lucky to have his strong, loving and resilient wife, Kim, a Physician Assistant, by his side during his illness.
“I also have been touched by all the well-wishes and kind gestures from County Government personnel and the Fire Services community,” Tankasali said.
“Everyone in the Fire Services community and County Government knows and loves Vini,” Neuhaus added. “We are all happy to see him back.”
Residents interested in becoming volunteer firefighters, can contact the County’s Division of Fire Services at email@example.com.