Dateline: Palominas, Arizona
December 10, 2011: For the first time in the history of the Palominas Fire District, a badge pinning ceremony was held in the Palominas School gymnasium for local firefighters. Thanks to the leadership of Fire Chief Sherry Hunter and the Palominas Fire District Governing Board, these men and women who regularly put themselves on the line were accorded a brief but important bit of recognition.
This was a very. Big. Deal. It mattered to those attending.
An hour before the scheduled start time of 11:30 a.m. on this blue-sky Saturday morning, Fire Department vehicles, firefighters, family members, and members of the public were already gathering. It didn’t even matter that there was a bit of difficulty and delay in figuring out how to get the overhead lights in the gym to come on and stay that way.
The Color Guard (complete with bagpipes) was already inside, rehearsing the march around the room that would present our nation’s colors and set the tone for the badge pinnings to come. People were–yes, in the semi-dark–depositing dishes of food on the wall-side tables for the potluck that would follow the ceremony. There was a feel in the air.
This meant something.
Caveat: I must apologize for not knowing the names of the firefighters…so the photos displayed on this page are numbered. Feel free to leave comments identifying one or more individual by photo number. (Names were given as the badges were pinned, but there was no way I dared put down the camera long enough to take notes.)
Acknowledgement: The names were all posted (see Comments) within 48 hours of publication, and the photos of the firefighters have now been identified. Special thanks to Debbie Stoner and Lori Samples.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance (yes, we still do that) and the opening prayer (that, too), the first firefighter pinned was–Chief Hunter herself. Sherry livened things up a bit when she yelped like she’d been stuck with the pin. There was a lot of laughter going around the room just prior to this snapshot.
Following her pinning, Chief Hunter introduced several speakers, none of whom were members of the Palominas Fire Department but all of whom she’d worked with closely during the horrendous Monument Fire (June 2011) and since. These speakers tended to underscore one key point a lot:
The Palominas Fire Department is in good hands with Sherry Hunter as Chief.
Additionally, at least one speaker pointed out that the Fire Board deserved a great deal of credit for having selected Hunter as the new Chief earlier this year.
Each firefighter chooses his or her own person (or people) to do the badge pinning. Some of the photos pretty much speak for themselves.
At this point in the ceremony, my Canon PowerShot announced that its power was…starting to get shot. No longer a full three bars on the display. Time to conserve, cut down the number of shutter clicks to just one per firefighter in hopes nobody gets missed.
Things were getting scary: The Low Battery indicator was down to one bar and spending that one rapidly by flashing its “Lookout, Sucka!” warning.
Should have thought to buy a spare battery. At least I now knew why the camera case came with that little extra zip pocket on the front of the thing.
Crossing fingers. Which may explain the occasional “fuzzed” shot–if yours is one of those, my apologies.
And…done. The camera battery held out! Even managed to catch a shot of Senator Gail Griffin closing the ceremony by reading the Fireman’s Code.
At least, I think that’s what she was reading. It wasn’t that easy to make out the words, being perched atop the highest row of bleachers across the gym from the microphone.
Sorry, no photos of the great turkey-and-other-stuff potluck feed that followed.
In closing this post, I have to say: It was an honor being present for this historic badge pinning ceremony for the Palominas firefighters. To one and all who wear the badge, thank you for your service.