WILKES-BARRE — The city welcomed Thomas Hart as its newest firefighter Monday with a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall.
The 23-year-old Hart will make the switch from a volunteer firefighter in Fountain Hill, Lehigh County, to a 70-member, full-time, paid department that responds to approximately 10,000 emergencies annually.
“It’s kind of overwhelming on the inside. It’s very exciting. I wanted to do this for many years,” Hart said. Patrick Hart, 17, held the Bible for his brother as Mayor Tony George administered the oath.
Hart, of Bethlehem, said he’s taken numerous civil service exams for firefighting positions with other departments. The city’s Fire Civil Service Commission forwarded Hart’s name for the position left vacant when a Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department member took a job with the New York City Fire Department.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney said Hart is a good fit for the department. The chief noted Hart is a certified emergency medical technician with the Easton and Bethlehem Township fire departments and a certified fire inspector with the Salisbury Township Police Department. He’s also earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice. In addition to all that, Hart has been assistant chief at the Fountain Hill department where he’s served for seven years.
“He comes to us well-rounded,” Delaney said.
His background puts him about three-quarters of the way through the required training for a firefighter, according to the chief. Hart will undergo approximately four weeks of orientation, learning procedures, apparatus and the layout of the city before he is assigned shift duty, Delaney said.
Hart will paid $48,871 annually plus benefits in the union position.
“It’ll be a change just because it’s a whole new area for me and also it’s a much busier department than what I’m used to,” Hart said. “But I’m certainly excited and welcome the change.”