Career firefighters Tanner Smith, at left, and John Brugnoli are officially promoted to lieutenants during a firefighter recognition ceremony at Buckhannon City Council's meeting Feb. 2. / Photos by Monica Zalaznik

Two promoted as other firefighters honored for outstanding efforts in tragic Pocahontas Street fire

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Fire Department recognized a group of its members for a recent rescue and several promotions.

The Buckhannon Fire Department attended the Feb. 2 Buckhannon City Council meeting to honor several members and their accomplishments. Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble asked Maria Potter and Shane Jenkins to come to the front and formally inducted them as official firefighters in the department.

“Shane and Maria were hired as probationary firefighters, and they successfully made it through their probationary period; they did this with flying colors,” Kimble said. “The process the Buckhannon Fire Department puts in place is amazing. You all really took the bull by the horns and did your jobs, so they are no longer probationary firefighters; they’re firefighters and I’m so proud of them and the men and women that helped them get to this point.”

John Brugnoli and Tanner Smith, formerly Firefighters First Class, were also recognized for passing their lieutenant promotional exam.

“John and Tanner have been with the Buckhannon Fire Department for five years now, and now they’re being announced as lieutenants to the Buckhannon Fire Department,” Kimble said. “The test is very difficult – it has about six books and about 1,500 pages of studying – and they really did a good job, so they are also instructors and they have advanced their firefighting abilities, not only for us, but for the surrounding area and I’m so very proud of them.”

Firefighters Capt. Joey Baxa, Capt. Linn Baxa, volunteer firefighter Justin Boggs, Lt. John Brugnoli, volunteer BVFD Capt. Glen Davis, Capt. Brian Elmore, Firefighter Shane Jenkins, Steve Michaels, Maggie Petitto, Firefighter Maria Potter, Firefighter First Class Ethan Smith and volunteer firefighter Hunter Wilfong were also recognized for their work during a rescue operation in November where a life was saved and a member of the team was injured.

Firefighters recognized for their extraordinary efforts in the November 2022 Pocahontas Street fire include, from left, firefighters Ethan Smith, Maria Potter, Steve Michael, Shane Jenkins, Glen Davis, John Brugnoli, Linn Baxa and Joey Baxa.

“During a council meeting in December, I had a very emotional talk up here about an event. How many people in here were watching the Buffalo Bills game when the football player went down to cardiac arrest?” Kimble said. “You also saw a team come out and take care of that gentleman on the field and do CPR and everybody was amazed, probably the biggest thing that ever happened in CPR in America in years.”

“Now everybody wants CPR because they saw a visual of how it works –how a team works together to save a life,” the fire chief added. “We’re minus a couple of people here tonight from the Nov. 27, 2022, event at 172 Pocahontas Street, but we saved a life because of this team.”

Kimble recognized the efforts of both the volunteer and paid firefighters during the event.

“I have a combination of pins for everybody here who [responded to] the event and I’m so proud of everybody that’s here; this is a big event for us,” Kimble said. “It’s not very often in our line of work we get to stand up here and talk about positive stuff – usually we see negative – and we want to do good for our community and continue our training so we can have more impact on more lives.”

Kimble also presented a token of the department’s appreciation to Mayor Robbie Skinner to honor the support the city gives to the Buckhannon Fire Department.

“Without you all providing the resources for us to do the training, and to go out and get involved in the community, we wouldn’t be in this situation; I’m very proud to work for a government entity that really backs our first responders, whether it be police or fire,” Kimble said. “We’re working on a training facility to enhance our abilities, so this is for city council and the mayor to put here at City Hall and thank you for your support.”

Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble presents a token of the BFD’s appreciation for council’s support to mayor Robbie Skinner.

Skinner said the department has needed to utilize their training a lot in the last few years and he appreciated their dedication.

“We are always pleased to have the opportunity to recognize our first responders and we cannot ignore the fact the past few years have been extremely difficult, particularly on this department, from a fire that took out a major piece of our downtown, to another fire that resulted in a heroic lifesaving success on Pocahontas Street,” Skinner said. “Tonight, we want to recognize those heroic efforts as well as promotions and the fact that several of our firefighters have continued to hone their craft.”

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