Friends, family and firefighters gathered in the Ocoee Fire Department Station 25 apparatus bay for a pinning and recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 26.
The ceremony was the first one held by the department since the beginning of the pandemic.
Ocoee Fire Marshall Shawn Sorenson kicked off the morning with the Pledge of Allegiance before passing over the floor to Chaplain Joshua Sauers who led the group in an invocation, followed by opening remarks from Acting Ocoee Fire Chief Thomas Smothers.
The ceremony honored four retirees – Battalion Chief Dave Whitaker, Lieutenant Joe Moy, Battalion Chief Edwin Youman and Fire Chief John Miller.
The ceremony also recognized promotions of Tim Hoyt to senior municipal inspector, Cameron Outland and David Sprague to battalion chief, Bronson Fernandez, Joe Ponzini, and Ryan Sandberg to lieutenant, and Robert LaBrunda, Sheila Rodriguez, Matt Roy, Jillian Sabat, and Chris Villa to engineer.
Firefighter pinnings occurred for the following members; Kevin Benkel, Jimmy Carroll, Daniel Clayton, Evan Cotroneo, Jeff Goletz, Aiden Herrera, Harrison Koller, Kalen Lilly, Michael McCane, Juan Millan, Clay Pruim, Andrew Ramirez, Armando Rodriguez, James Sims, Nick Slater, Cory Spangler, John Varano, Giovanny Veloz and Jacob Winkelman.
In addition, Roy was presented with the distinguished Firefighter of the Year award.
After the new firefighters were sworn in, the morning concluded with refreshments and snacks inside the station.
Smothers said he was especially touched by the retirees that came to the ceremony.
“I worked closely with the three that were honored today, but there were several others that came to the ceremony to honor them and to show their support,” Smothers said. “This touches my heart and reminds me of the camaraderie and brotherhood of the fire service that led to the love I have for my profession.”