WILKES-BARRE — Praise from the mayor and the fire chief highlighted Tuesday’s swearing in of the city’s newest firefighter/EMT, Travis Temarantz.
“I have heard nothing but outstanding compliments about Travis,” Mayor Tom Leighton said. “He comes to the city with great credentials and experience and we are very fortunate to have him in our fire department.”
Temarantz, 25 of Plymouth Township, started firefighting at age 14 and his most recent job was with the Nanticoke City Fire Department. His hiring brings the city’s complement to 70 firefighters and eight paramedics, said Fire Chief Jay Delaney.
“Travis worked for the city fire department as a per diem paramedic,” Delaney said. “As you can see by the number of our firefighters here today, Travis is well thought of by his peers and he will be on the fire engine starting Sunday.”
Temarantz, son of Joseph and Renee Temarantz of Hanover Township, is the first of 12 new hires for the fire department. On Monday, Luzerne County Community College hosted a graduation ceremony for 11 city fire department cadet trainees who successfully completed their initial fire academy training at the Public Safety Training Institute at the college in Nanticoke. Cadets received more than 500 hours of classroom, fitness and tactical training over three months.
Delaney said the city received a $1.2 million grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will pay for the firefighters for their first two years on the job. Delaney said the department was hit with a lot of retirements recently.
Temarantz said he was excited to join the city fire department that Leighton called the largest paid fire department in Luzerne County.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of a great fire department,” Temarantz said. “I’ll keep my head down and work hard.”
On Monday, Delaney said city firefighters have well over 1,000 years of experience.
Liza Prokop, city spokeswoman, said there are 70 firefighters, eight paramedics and 83 police officers in the city.
“This city, the administration and council are committed to public safety,” Leighton said.
Prokop said in 2014, Leighton hired 10 new police officers and with the assistance of the FEMA grant, he was able to hire 11 firefighters in April. Prokop said staffing levels were fairly consistent over the past five years for both departments until the 2014 increases. The fire department did experience a decrease in 2012 due to layoffs and retirement incentives.