Before a standing-room-only audience of family members, members of the Belmont Police Department, city, county and state officials, as well as public safety officials from around the Peninsula, the firefighters took an oath administered by City Clerk Terry Cook.
Until today , and today’s ceremonial swearing-in is the culmination of over 18 months of discussion and negotiation over the dissolution of that agency.
Belmont city manager Greg Scoles opened the 30-minutes ceremony by thanking everyone involved in the transition process. He noted, “This transition hasn’t been easy for anyone in this room, and I want to thank all of you.”
In addition to acknowledging the involvement of every city department in the process, Scoles specifically thanked the firefighters for their support during the transition.
“It takes courage to run into a burning building when everyone else is running out,” Scoles said. “And now you’ve all shown a different type of courage. You’ve shown a commitment to each other and to the community you serve.”
The Belmont Police Department Honor Guard then presented the colors and led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Belmont Mayor Coralin Feierbach offered a few words of welcome, “I’ve waited for this for over 30 years.” She acknowledged her fellow council members, for their efforts in the mediation with San Carlos.
“I’m really happy we have our own fire protection district again,” said Feierbach. She added her appreciation to Belmont tax payers, noting that funding for the fire protection district comes from property taxes.
Interim fire welcomed the fire departments from San Mateo, San Carlos, Redwood City and Foster City, who were also in attendance.
Fry reminded the audience of his tenure with the various fire agencies. “I’ve been sworn in four times in my career, and I’ve never left Belmont,” he quipped.
He then invited the three battalion chiefs, six captains and 15 firefighters to come to the front of the chamber for the swearing-in. After they took the oath, Fry introduced each firefighter, who then received a new badge pinned on by their wife or other family member.
Fry concluded the ceremony by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the Belmont Fire Department.”
Supervisor Groom wished the new department the best of luck, “If this (stand alone agency) is what the leaders and the people of Belmont want, then I hope it is successful and sustainable,” she said.
“It’s always been an exceptional fire department, and I think they’ll be able to continue that excellence, and have that local control that is so valued by the community,” said Assemblyman Hill.
Councilmember Christine Wozniak, who served on the fire commission, summed up the transition by saying it was a positive culmination of a lot of effort.
“I’m glad both Belmont and San Carlos fire departments have a stable home. It’s not about where it is, it’s about the people. We’ll now see more of our firefighters out in the community and visiting schools,” said Wozniak.
Firefighter John Tarantino summed up the day’s events, “It’s a great opportunity to continue the history of the Belmont Fire Department, and it’s an honor to serve the city of Belmont and work with the great staff.”
The new department will have two engines and a 100-foot aerial ladder truck at two stations, and its administrative offices are in City Hall alongside the Belmont Police Department, forming the City’s Public Safety Administration Office.