A ceremony was held Friday morning at the Robert A. Peterson Firehouse in Harwich. The Harwich Fire Department celebrated the swearing in of a Captain, a Lieutenant and two new firefighters. Retiring Captain John Clarke shared advice and wisdom after 36 years of service with the Town of Harwich.
“This is a proud day for all of you. Having family, friends and colleagues here watching you take an oath, the pinning of badges, and taking pictures. Pretty special” Words from Captain John Clarke to the firefighters being promoted at today’s ceremony. Clarke, who finished his last day with the department yesterday, offered advice to the newly hired and new promoted firefighters with a mix of humor, nostalgia and lots of wisdom that was earned in more than 36 years of service to the Town.
Lieutenant Leighanne Smith was sworn in as Captain, Firefighter Justin White was sworn in as Lieutenant and Provisional Firefighters Joseph Battista and Andrew Ottino were sworn in as Probationary Firefighters in front of a crowd of Town Officials, fellow firefighters, and family by Town Clerk Anita Doucette.
Retired Captain Joe McNeil, a previous Captain of Engine 65, offered a few comments about the history of Group 2/Engine 65 and pointing out that Leighanne was about to enter a select group of leaders that have commanded Group 2. Former Chief Robert “Pete” Peterson, Captain McNeil and Captain John Clarke.
The ceremony also included the pinning the members with their new badges. Captain Smith was pinned by her husband, Lieutenant Scott Smith of the Yarmouth Fire Department. Lieutenant White was pinned by his father, Lieutenant Glenn White of the Provincetown Fire Department (retired). Firefighters Battista and Ottino were pinned by their mothers, Ruthann Ciccarelli and Cathy Ottino, respectively.
In his comments Chief Clarke talked about the “family with the family”. Every department is broken into shifts and each shift in Harwich is assigned a company. As the Chief said, “it’s about the number” and that number is signified by their helmet shield. Following their pinning Captain Smith was presented with her Captains front for Engine 65, Lieutenant White was presented with his Lieutenants front for Engine 64, and Firefighter’s Battista and Ottino were given their probationary fronts.
Also recognized in today’s ceremony was Firefighter William Schneeweiss. Bill completed his probationary year with the fire department and was given his permanent shift assignment and presented with his permanent helmet fronts, his “number”.
In speaking to the new hires about Leighanne and Justin, Captain Clarke said “the lesson for you two is that Leighanne and Justin came on the Department, settled in, settled down, but didn’t just settle for putting their time in. They have, over their time here, given more than they have taken and like those that have come before us, continue the fine traditions of the Harwich Fire Department.”