Torian Mister jumped up and down, his arms stretched upward as he clamored for his father’s attention.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” he said until Antwoine Mister, who had just been sworn in as one of 51 new Toledo Fire Department recruits, picked up the boy.
“It’s amazing,” Mr. Mister said of his new appointment.
During the brief swearing-in ceremony Tuesday morning in City Council chambers, Mr. Mister, 26, of Toledo, stood tall but kept a straight, almost unemotional face.
“In my heart I was jumping upside down,” said Mr. Mister, a former bank teller.
PHOTO GALLERY: 51 recruits sworn in
Before being sworn in as Toledo firefighters, the recruits will go through 13 weeks of fire training followed nine weeks of emergency medical technician training. They're expected to graduate from the fire academy in mid-February.
The new class is mostly white males — 39 of them. There are also five white women, five black men, and two Hispanic men.
Fire Chief Luis Santiago said finding diverse candidates who are interested in the position isn’t a problem, but potential recruits sometimes drop out of the pool because of how long the hiring process takes. The pool of candidates is further narrowed based on who passes other criteria — such as test scores and background tests.
“Based on the end list of [candidates] I was given, yeah, we’re happy with what we were able to get off that list,” Chief Santiago said after the ceremony. “Would I like to see a list that’s a bit more diverse? Sure. That’s something we’re always working on.”
A federal consent decree that, for more than 30 years, governed the city’s hiring and promotions for firefighters, was lifted nearly three years ago.
During the ceremony, Mayor Mike Bell, a former firefighter, fire chief, and state fire marshal, assured the recruits’ families they would be in good hands in the academy.
“They will be taught by some of the best,” the mayor said. He also warned the families that the recruits will be “very irritable” during the first weeks of training.
That’s part of the training because the lives of many people “depend on them being able to do what they need to do.”
James Sherman, a 20-year veteran and Mr. Mister’s godfather, said he remembers his swearing-in ceremony.
“You’ll never forget this day,” he said, then pointing to where he stood two decades ago during his swearing-in.
Mr. Sherman’s brother, Eric, is a veteran of the department. He too remembers the day he started his career. In fact, in just a few weeks, he will reach the 24-year mark.
“That’s beautiful,” Mr. Mister told him.