BUCKHANNON – They were once lieutenants, but now you can call them captains – Capt. Joey Baxa and Capt. Brian Elmore, that is.
Baxa and Elmore were two of the Buckhannon Fire Department’s paid firefighters who officially advanced in their careers in front of their family members, friends and mostly importantly, fellow firefighters – including retired city fire chief Mitch Tacy – during a pinning ceremony at Buckhannon City Council’s Thursday meeting.
But Elmore and Joey Baxa weren’t the only ones. Buckhannon career firefighter Linn Baxa advanced to the rank of lieutenant, and career firefighter Ethan Smith has successfully completed his probationary period.
Fire chief J.B. Kimble told council he was extremely proud of the Baxa brothers, Elmore and Smith.
“I’m taking a page out of retired Chief Tacy’s playbook here,” Kimble said, as he plopped a thick stack of thick textbooks on council’s desk. “I want everybody to look at those books. That’s 3,727 pages of material to take a 100-question test, and it’s not all based on what’s in those books. It’s based on experience and prior knowledge and all that good stuff.”
“There is a passing score that you have to achieve, and I have three members of our department here tonight – one lieutenant and two captains – that passed this promotional exam and are moving on in their career,” Kimble added, “and then, I have a young man over here that has made it through his probationary period of one year, and this is real close to my heart, and I’m sure Chief Tacy’s.”
Kimble said Tacy, who was in the audience for the pinning ceremony, was at the helm of the department when the first promotional exams were administered, possibly in 2008 or 2009.
“[Chief Tacy] and I discussed through the years that we’d probably change that rank structure a little bit as time goes on, as the department grows, and we learn more and our operations change,” Kimble said. “Well, that’s where we’re at. This is huge. These guys have stepped up.”
Kimble said the BFD is now dispatched on more calls in its district in one month in 2019 than it was in a whole year in 2001.
“So, that’s where we’re at 18 years later, and I’d like to shake each one of these young men’s hands and celebrate them,” he concluded, “and, mayor, I’d especially like to thank their families. I know what my family puts up with on a daily basis with the responsibility we have, and you can see we’re all a big family.”