The first in-person graduation from the Connecticut Fire Academy since the COVID-19 pandemic began was held on May 27.
By Ronni Newton
Newly-minted West Hartford Firefighter/Paramedic Sean Kearney was one of 38 graduates from the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks honored during an outdoor celebration last week during the first in-person graduation from the institution to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
West Hartford Fire Chief Greg Priest was in attendance, and administered the oath of office to Kearney, who will begin his service to the department on June 4, assigned to Station 1.
Kearney, who was born in Independence, MO, grew up in Dallas, and graduated from the Townview Science and Engineering Magnet School in 2003.
After several semesters of college, he joined the Dallas Police Department as a dispatcher where he worked for five years before becoming a crime scene investigator from 2012-2016.
Kearney and his wife, Danielle, returned to her hometown of Southington in 2016, and he began to gain fire experience when he joined that town’s fire department as a volunteer.
From 2016 until being hired by the West Hartford Fire Department this year, Kearney worked as a public safety dispatcher in Southington, earned his certification as an EMT, and also volunteered and then worked part time for the New Britain EMS. He said he decided fire service was his passion and to expand his abilities he attended paramedic school at the New Britain EMS Academy, graduating in October 2020.
“In March 2020, my first son, Preston, was born and continues to grow and amaze me every single day. I am very proud of my past and my current accomplishments and humbled to be a member of the West Hartford Fire Department. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me,” Kearney said.
According to the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), the 38 firefighters in Recruit Class 67 represented 19 fire departments across the state.
In addition to West Hartford, recruits represented the following departments: Allingtown (West Haven), Bristol, Danbury, Fairfield, Greenwich, Manchester, Middlebury, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Canaan, North Branford, North Haven, Norwich, Patterson (NY), Ridgefield, UConn, West Haven, and Willimantic.
The first five weeks of the program, which began Feb. 2, were conducted remotely, according to DESPP, with recruits reporting to the Academy for daily skills training on March 8. “The class was originally scheduled to graduate on Wednesday, May 26, but the class was extended by one day to allow the Recruits to attend the line-of-duty-death funeral for Ricardo Torres, Jr. of the New Haven FD,” a news release stated.
Battalion Chief Mark Bassett, who is responsible for the department’s Training and Support Services Division said this was the first of three graduations to take place. He noted that “not one recruit acquired COVID during the in-residence training at CFA which is largely due to the safety procedures employed by the Academy.”
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