Fire Department welcomes two new members
On Monday, Jan. 28, the Merrill Fire Department proudly welcomed two new members during a badge pinning ceremony.
Kyle Banaszak, 24, of Antigo, comes to the Merrill Fire department with approximately 8 years of service for the Newburg Volunteer Fire Department. More recently Banaszak has been employed as a firefighter/paramedic with the Antigo Fire Department. Kyle is certified as a Paramedic, Firefighter I & II, Fire Inspector I and he is close to completing his Associate’s Degree in Fire Science Technology.
Cody Wiesman, 22, Mosinee, comes to the Merrill Fire Department with three years of experience with the Mosinee Fire Protection District, and Rib Mountain Fire Department. Wiesman is a certified Paramedic, Firefighter I & II, Certified Fire Officer I and a certified Fire Instructor I. Wiesman is also an adjunct faculty member of Northcentral Technical College-Emergency Medical Services.
Firefighting has a rich history, which is reflected in the firefighter badge. Badge pinning is a proud tradition within fire departments across the country, signifying the introduction of new department members to their duties and welcoming them to their new department. It was also an opportunity to introduce the new members to city officials. Those in attendance included: Mayor Bialecki, Council President Steve Hass, Alderpersons Candace Peterson, Dave Sukow and Rob Norton, City Administrator Dave Johnson, Police and Fire Commission chairman Kurt Helmstadter and Police Chief Ken Neff.
Numerous Merrill fire personnel were in attendance to observe the pinning ceremony and welcome the new members. Both Kyle and Cody had family members and friends who attended and each had an honorary individual in attendance that did the actual pinning of their official badge. In Kyle’s case it was his brother Kevin Banaszak, Kyle stated, “It was my brother who pushed me in the direction of fire and EMS.” Cody had mentor/friend Josh Wiese pin him. Cody says, “It was because Josh took me under his wing and guided me in the right direction in regard to firefighting.”
Fire Chief Dave Savone closed the ceremony, which is new to the Merrill Department, by thanking those who attended, while reminding both Kyle and Cody that they were now officially welcomed into a special family and that each would be held accountable in upholding the privilege and honor of wearing “the badge” in Merrill.
The Merrill Fire Department has 23 staff members, serving on three 24-hour shifts. Each shift has a captain and six firefighters. The fire department responds to approximately 2,000 all-hazards, fire & EMS incidents a year. Firefighters also provide fire safety instruction, CPR training, First aid training and station tours to the public and local schools.