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Fire Rescue welcomes new graduates

From left, Alex Schele, Todd Martinez, Kevin Suarez, Robert Soto, Chris Lebourveau, Roberto Soto and Giovanni Cobielles stand with Battalion Commander Art Bousquet on July 28 in Hollywood.
From left, Alex Schele, Todd Martinez, Kevin Suarez, Robert Soto, Chris Lebourveau, Roberto Soto and Giovanni Cobielles stand with Battalion Commander Art Bousquet on July 28 in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD — Strength, endurance, and physical fitness comprise only a portion of a much larger responsibility of becoming a firefighter.

Seven dedicated men vowed their lives before the U.S. and Seminole flags July 28 as part of their commencement ceremony into the Seminole Tribe of Florida Fire Rescue team.

Fire Rescue Chief Donald Dipetrillo looks at the graduating class slideshow next to Battalion Commander Art Bousquet, Assistant Fire Marshall Ed Mullins, and District Fire Chief Douglas LeValley.
Fire Rescue Chief Donald Dipetrillo looks at the graduating class slideshow next to Battalion Commander Art Bousquet, Assistant Fire Marshall Ed Mullins, and District Fire Chief Douglas LeValley.

The recruits underwent five weeks of intense physical and mental training in order to keep Tribal members safer in the community and to help and rescue all Tribal members and visitors who should ever face any sort of fire dangers or emergency medical needs.

A limited amount of spots are annually open for the Tribe’s Fire Rescue team and only a handful are selected from a pool of hundreds of men wanting the jobs.
The seven chosen were hand-selected in order to meet the needs of the Tribe and the Tribal community.

“It means a lot to me. I’m just honored and grateful to be part of the organization,” said graduate and Firefighter/Paramedic Robert Soto. “My goal here is to be a team player and to be an asset to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Seminole Fire Rescue Department.”

Soto has had ample experience in the industry, including special operations skills. He was part of the rescue efforts for the 9/11 attacks in 2001 in New York City at Ground Zero. Additionally, he has trained with the City of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue’s SWAT team and the Special Operations unit.

Graduation took place in the Tribe’s headquarters and the class was sworn in by Fire Marshall Robert Brown after Chief Donald DiPetrillo delivered remarks and the audience watched a slideshow of the recruits’ experiences in training.

Fire Honor Guard Nick Garcia marches with an ax for the presentation of colors at the beginning of the Fire Rescue graduation and employee recognition ceremony July 28 in Hollywood.
Fire Honor Guard Nick Garcia marches with an ax for the presentation of colors at the beginning of the Fire Rescue graduation and employee recognition ceremony July 28 in Hollywood.

“We’re pleased to have these new members in our Fire Rescue family to help serve the Tribe. This is an exciting start for their hopefully long careers,” said Battalion Commander Art Bousquet. “They’ve earned it and deserve it.”

Chris Lebourveau, 30, the class leader, agreed with Bousquet and also hopes he will have a long and prosperous career.

“It was a great experience with an amazing group of classmates and knowledgeable instructors,” Lebourveau said. “It’s going to prepare us all.”

Some graduates were just happy to be the chosen few.

“This is my first fire job, and I just want to thank the Seminole Tribe for training me,” said Kevin Suarez, 25. “Everyone I have come across has been very influential.”

Firefighting graduates were very supportive of each other and congratulated one another after the unveiling of a commemorative fire hydrant statue for the graduating class. The men’s families and friends watched them receive their fire department badge before joining them for a light dinner and dessert.

“It’s [Seminole Fire Rescue] a family; it’s not like any other place,” DiPetrillo said.

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