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42nd Wilmington Fire Academy Graduates
20 New City Firefighters

March 27, 2023

The City of Wilmington welcomed 20 new firefighters to the Wilmington Fire Department (WFD) during a public graduation ceremony held Saturday at Salesianum School in Wilmington. The ceremony also included the graduation of probationary firefighters from nearby Chester (Pa.), which first participated in a joint graduation ceremony with Wilmington in July 2021.

In all, 30 firefighters graduated from the 42nd Wilmington Fire Academy. These included 10 from the City of Chester. A list of graduates is included as part of this release. The ceremony, hosted by the Wilmington Fire Department, included the presentation of badges, and fire and EMT Certifications, as well as the Oath of Office, administered by Deputy Chief Gabriel Pabon.

Mayor Mike Purzycki, who was unable to attend Saturday’s ceremony, addressed the graduates in a videotaped message. The Mayor congratulated the graduates on their outstanding achievements and welcomed them to the Wilmington family and a career of service as an employee of the WFD. “You have chosen a most honored profession and you are becoming a member of a fire department with an outstanding reputation,” said the Mayor. “The accolades that this department has earned have come from the dedication to public service by generations of firefighters who came before you.” The Mayor’s full remarks can be viewed here [].

Those in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony included friends and family members of the new firefighters, retired and serving Wilmington firefighters, invited guests, and members of the public. Chief Looney congratulated the graduates and reminded them of the great responsibility they now have as firefighters. “While you have learned valuable and lifesaving skills, this is only the beginning of a life-long education,” said Chief Looney. “You must rededicate yourselves each day to learning something new and strive to attain as much knowledge as you can throughout your career.  Know that those we serve in this profession count on you and your knowledge to help them in their time of most need.”

The new Wilmington firefighters are Robert Alscher, Donovan Alston, Matthew Ambrosio, Sean Castagna, Jacob Cawthray, Matthew Chiodo, Luis Collazo, Luis Cotto, Dylan Cronin,
Malik Golson, Dean Lambropoulos, Cameron Lucas, Keisha Moore-Davis, Jamal Pierce, Kurt Sarac, Antonio Scott, Gary Smith, William Spear II, Andre Wicker, Michael Wiktorowicz Jr.

Wilmington graduates who received special recognition for extraordinary accomplishments during the 42nd Fire Academy were Joseph Hall, who received the Academic Award; Malik Golson received the Physical Fitness Award; Luis Collazo received the Most Improved Recruit Award; and Cameron Lucas received the Chief’s Award.

To become City firefighters the recruits had to complete an intense 15-week training academy commanded by Battalion Chief Robert Pryor, his staff Captain Matthew Marsella, Lieutenant Andrew Bowerson, and Lieutenant Laurence Hinds that included work in the classroom, on drill grounds, and out on the street. The 20 firefighters were among the 226 applicants who began the process last July to become firefighters. Upon completing the academy, each recruit attained national certifications as Pro Board Fire Fighter Levels I and II (NBFSPQ), Hazardous Materials Operations Level, and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). The 20 new graduates bring the Fire Department up to its authorized strength of 156 firefighters.

The City of Chester Fire graduates are Kenneth Baker, Ryan Bax, Zachery Felker, Joseph Hall, Erik Kallberg, Joshua Mason, Phoenix Murray, Mark Randolph, April Ziviello, Christopher Zuccarelli