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Badge Pinning For Firefighting Duo
In a nutshell, the two firefighters officially receiving their badges on Friday at Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District represent the direction the department is going.

Fire Chief Rick Mello said the hiring of Joe Pelot as a battalion chief and the hiring of Ryan Burr as an entry-level firefighter showcase the new alignment at the department. Pelot - who actually joined the department in December - is battalion chief of the department's C shift, which includes himself and firefighters Matt Herrero and Ryan Burr. The B shift is overseen by Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro and includes firefighters Cassidy Bohannon and Mike Rebensdorf, with Randy Reid serving as battalion chief for A shift, which includes firefighter Moe Silva and has one vacant position. That vacant slot is being filled by reserves at the moment, though interviews are scheduled soon to fill the job on a fulltime basis.

The new scheduling of A, B and C shifts allows the department to be fully staffed around the clock.

Mello said the two new crew members fit right into the scheme.

"This is the most fun part of my job," Mello said, addressing a crowd on hand for the Friday afternoon badge pinning ceremony on Feb. 22. "Hiring people is truly one of the best experiences I've had."

Many family members and friends of both men were in attendance, along with representatives from neighboring departments and, in Pelot's case, some of the other departments he has worked for during his career.

"Joe's been with us since Dec. 9 and we tried to get around to this before," Mello said of the official badge pinning.

Noting that it didn't work out, Mello said they just decided to combine the ceremony when they knew Burr was going to be brought on fulltime.

Pelot has worked for Ripon Fire Department, serving as both a lieutenant and captain there, them moved to East Contra Costa Fire in 2001, rising to the rank of captain there before joining the Escalon department in late 2007. A resident of Escalon, Pelot had his badge pinned on by his wife, Kristi.

"Ryan started with us as a volunteer in 2003," Mello explained of the newest department member.