Leadership at the Seguin Fire Department take their jobs seriously, especially since they are among the first to respond to life-saving situations and help protect the community members.
So, being a part of the department and wearing a Seguin Fire Department badge come with a great deal of responsibility and a commitment not taken lightly, SFD Chief Dale Skinner said.
“At the Seguin Fire Department, we don’t give away badges,” he said. “We believe you have to earn your badge.”
And so on a recent day, Skinner, some of his staff and other members of the community gathered to recognize firefighters who have done that.
Skinner presided over the department’s badge pinning ceremony, promoting several employees Wednesday afternoon at the Municipal Court Building.
The relatively large number of promotions occurred due to the impending retirement of a long-time employee, Battalion Chief James “Jimmy” Vogel, who is calling it quits after 40 years with the department.
“It’s not very often we promote a battalion chief,” Skinner said. “It’s all thanks to the retirement of one, Jimmy Vogel.”
Promoting to the rank of battalion chief in Vogel’s stead is Westley Krueger. Amy Flynn was promoted to captain from her position as Lieutenant, while Ryan Hale bumped up to the rank of lieutenant from fire apparatus operator.
The department saw Sergio Guardiola and Garrett Sanders promote to fire apparatus operator (FAO).
Also, during the ceremony, the chief recognized new firefighter Sarah Matisi, who completed her probationary period within the last quarter of 2019 and earned her badge.
Skinner warned Matisi against acts of bravado and gave her sound advice to carry with her throughout her career.
“Remember, there’s always more to learn,” he said. “When you think you know it all, you’re dangerous.”
After the addition of Matisi, and counting the chief, the department currently has 60 members, Skinner said. There are three open positions waiting to be filled, he added.
Battalion Chief Frank Herrera, who attended the ceremony, said he looks forward to the great job he’s sure Battalion Chief Krueger will do.
“He will do well in his position,” Herrera said. “He’s smart, intuitive and just an all around good guy.”
The department promotes its personnel through a process that includes testing, interviews and more, Skinner said. He thinks holding the badge pinning and promotions ceremonies are special for those recognized.
“Getting a badge and promoting, it’s just a cool thing, something you’ll always remember,” Skinner said.