Smithfield firefighters earn promotions

Smithfield firefighters earn promotions

SMITHFIELD - The Fire Department has promoted four of its veterans and hired three new members, bringing the total number of sworn officers to the authorized strength of 48.

Town Manager Dennis Finlay administered all seven men their oaths at the Aug. 6 meeting of the Town Council as some 75 family members and friends snapped pictures and applauded.

Promoted to emergency service captain was Christopher Keene, who has been with the department nine years.

Keene is a 2001 graduate of North Smithfield High School who holds an associate's degree in fire science from Columbia Southern University. He is a member of the department's honor guard among whose certifications is open-water SCUBA diving, fire service instructor, and hazardous materials operations.

Promoted to lieutenant were Paul Eldridge, Eric Cote, and John O'Rourke.

Eldridge, an eight-year veteran, is also a technical sergeant in the Air National Guard who is trained in hazardous materials operations.

Cote, also with the department eight years, is trained in emergency and rope rescue, and is a member of the department's dive team, honor guard, and the Rhode Island Urban Search and Rescue Team.

O'Rourke, a department member since 2002 who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in fire science from Columbia Southern, is certified in cardiac-hazmat operations and fire service instruction. He is an executive board member of the Smithfield firefighters' union local and a member of the Rhode Island Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums, a band that preserves the use of bagpipes and drums at ceremonial events.

The probationary firefighters are Jamie Breton, a graduate of Ponaganset High School who studied video and audio production at New England Institute of Technology; Vincent Ceceri, a member of the Rhode Island and National Honor Societies while at Ponaganset who has worked as a medical technician and taken firefighting courses; and James P. Grande Jr., a graduate of La Salle Academy who was a volunteer for Harmony fire-rescue and whose father has a firefighting background in North Providence.

The three new hires are filling slots that opened because of retirements.

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