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Covington ‘pins’ nine firefighters, all with experience; newest police officer served in Afghanistan

Covington has nine new (experienced) firefighters.

Having completed eight weeks of in-house training, the nine were officially “pinned” with their Covington Fire Department badges and many of them have already started working shifts at the City’s various firehouses.

Covington’s nine new firefighters pose with their trainers after receiving their badges. From left to right: Chase Autry, Peter Doherty, Mike Gullett, trainer Lt. Jimmy Adams, Brandon Padilla, Sara McPherson, Tyler Sipes, Ryan Ruberg, TJ Galliher, Kevin Davis, and trainer Assistant Chief Mike Bloemer (provided photos).

All nine arrived with experience – some with as many as 15 years – from other fire departments.

“The ability to hire ‘laterals’ is giving us a large pool of very qualified people to hire from,” explained Fire Chief Mark Pierce.

Six of the new hires hold the position of firefighter/paramedics. Three are firefighter/EMTs.

None of the nine positions are new; rather, they were positions left vacant by recent retirements. (Driven by changes in the state pension system, the number of vacancies was unusually large.)

Lt. Jimmy Adams, who with Assistant Chief Mike Bloemer oversaw the training, said it included a wide variety of refresher skills (including primary EMS functions and 40 different fires at the training field off of Boron Drive); a review of Covington’s streets and layout, rules and regulations; and nuances that come with fighting fires in an urban environment.

For example, Adams said, in a suburban neighborhood, firefighters laying hose while responding to a house fire might have what’s essentially a straight shot to the fire across a wide yard, whereas on one of Covington’s tighter streets, firefighters might have to work around bumper-to-bumper parked cars, a wrought-iron fence, telephone poles, and other obstacles.

Since water-filled hoses are rigid (they can’t be piled up like coils in a rope), you have to be strategic about how you get a hose from a pumper or a hydrant to the fire, he said.

“So in those exercises we kept throwing an increasing number of obstacles at them,” Adams said. “Essentially, we were teaching them how to be urban firefighters.”

Covington’s newest officer served in Afghanistan

Covington continues to fill vacant positions in its Police Department created when changes to the state pension system sparked an array of retirements.

The department’s newest hire is a former firefighter who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Army/Kentucky National Guard.

Covington’s newest recruit, James Elliott, is flanked by Police Chief Rob Nader and Mayor Joe Meyer after he took the oath of office today.

James Elliott was sworn in by Mayor Joe Meyer during a short ceremony in the Covington City Commission chambers attended by family and friends. His hiring was approved by the Covington Board of Commissioners on Jan. 28.

He will attend the state training academy in Richmond beginning in April to become certified by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, Police Chief Rob Nader said.

“Welcome to the family,” Nader said. He presented Elliott with his badge and then, as is customary, talked about the words printed on the back of it: integrity, professionalism, justice and compassion.

“These are the values our department wants to project,” he said. “You’ll probably get tired of hearing all of your supervisors talk about them.”

Elliott had been a member of Crescent Springs/Villa Hills Fire and EMS since June 2011 and a quality control technician with Smyrna Ready Mix since October 2014.

Mayor Meyer praised Covington’s Police Department and talked about all the roles an officer has to take on in the community.

“It’s not just car chases and that kind of stuff,” he said. “You have to be a marriage counselor, a social worker and community leader. But we have a great department.”

City of Covington 

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