News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Taking the badge in the fire service

Local firefighting professionals honored the 2023 cadre of young resident volunteer firefighters as they launch their careers in the service last Thursday, September 7.

The resident volunteers successfully completed the Firefighter 1 Academy and were "pinned" with their badge as newly fledged firefighters in an hour-long Joint Recruit Academy Graduation & Recognition Ceremony held at Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Community Hall.

Cade Heitschmidt, Madison Jones, Noah McAllister, and Zacharaiah Oublasque are serving with the Black Butte Ranch (BBR) Fire District. Andrew Lord is serving with the Cloverdale Fire District, while Grant Dickensen, Jessa Hocker, Cody Martin, and Tyler Wallace serve at Sisters-Camp Sherman.

Black Butte Ranch Fire Chief Dan Tucker administered the oath of office.

The resident volunteers spent their summer attending wildland firefighting school, receiving equipment driving instruction, undergoing an intensive EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) program, and an eight-week firefighting academy.

BBR Fire Deputy Chief Jason Ellison said, "They spent their summer dedicating to our community."

Ellison noted that his department has hosted a student program for more than three decades.

"You have become part of a culture, part of a family that goes back 36 years," he said.

Sisters-Camp Sherman Deputy Fire Chief Tim Craig noted that the three local districts had a pick of excellent applicants.

"It's an application process that goes Central Oregon-wide," he said. "We came together to conduct the interviews together, and then Chief Ellison and I got together to arm wrestle over who we got."

Chief Craig noted that the resident volunteers won't all land in Central Oregon positions - the local districts do not have enough openings to offer them all jobs.

"We are proud and honored to send you out into other organizations, and make those organizations stronger," he said.

Sisters Fire Chief Roger Johnson, who hosted the event, noted the importance of the family support shown to the new firefighters - through their education and going forward.

"This is just the beginning for these folks," he said.

The event also recognized promotions and new hires within the three local fire districts. BBR Fire District marked the promotion of Travis Krieck to the rank of captain, and the hiring of Grace Schuhmann as a firefighter/EMT.

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District honored Ben Duda as a new volunteer captain, and the establishment of Steven Lord as a firefighter/EMTR and community risk and fire safety manager. Rachelle Otasu has come on board as a fire medic, along with Rachel Ulm and Jack Wales, and Jeff Puller is fire safety manager.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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