SCHENECTADY – The Fire Department recently promoted four high-ranking members and swore in another quartet of recruits, one of whom is street-ready.
In a celebration at headquarters late last week, Deputy Chief George Burns was promoted from captain, while Captain Joshua Canelli ascended from lieutenant, and Lts. Nathan Kuhl and Joshua Kruk were promoted from the firefighter ranks.
Meanwhile, Andrew DeCocco, Edward Harasiemowicz III, Timothy LeBlanc, and James Myers were sworn in as new firefighters.
Burns was hired June 1995 and had been captain since May 2017. He serves on the executive board of the Schenectady Permanent Firefighters Association and is a member of the department’s Special Hazards Team. He’s assigned to the department’s training division.
Canelli was hired March 2006 and has served as lieutenant since February 2014. He is assigned to Platoon 2.
Also assigned to Platoon 2, Kuhl was hired August 2013, is assistant director of the Schenectady Firefighters Cancer Foundation, co-chairs the Schenectady Firefighters Annual “Run 4 Your Life” 5K race, and is a member of the department’s Honor Guard Team.
Kruk was hired March 2013, is a member of the department’s Quality Assurance Committee, and is assigned to Platoon 1.
Recruit DeCocco, 23, has a degree in fire protection technology from SUNY Schenectady and completed the paramedic program at Hudson Valley Community College. He has four years of firefighting experience.
LeBlanc, 32, completed his paramedic studies at SUNY Cobleskill and has years of experience practicing paramedicine, including four years as a flight medic. He also has two years of firefighting experience.
Meyers, 37, studied at Fulton Montgomery Community College and completed the paramedic program at Hudson Valley Community College. He has more than 10 years of firefighting experience and doesn’t warrant study in the academy. After completing an orientation program at Schenectady Fire Department, he will be assigned to Platoon 3.
From a family of firefighters, Harasiemowicz, 22, studied health science and health care management at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He completed the paramedic program at Hudson Valley Community College.
The three least-experienced recruits will be ready for work in early December, after completion of the 14-week academy, Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno, the department spokesman, said.
The new recruits will bring the department to 112 firefighters, five shy of its full complement of 117, Mareno said.
“Like a lot of agencies, organizations, corporations and businesses, hiring is proving to be a challenge,” Mareno said, adding that the remaining vacancies would remain unfilled because of a limited pool of candidates.
Some exam takers weren’t eligible for hire because they didn’t possess paramedic credentials required by the Fire Department.
Like the city of Troy, Schenectady’s requirements for hire are substantial than, say, the city of Albany, which hires EMT-credentialed firefighters, Mareno said.
The paramedic card has to be maintained throughout the firefighter’s career in Schenectady.
Schenectady also requires 60 college credits. Students who attend paramedic school will acquire the vast majority of that, maybe about 45 credits, in school.
“It takes you well over a year, or longer depending on what course you sign up for, to become a paramedic and the cost is substantial,” Mareno said.
The department will look to hire again later in the year, toward the beginning of next year, and it will recruit throughout winter.