Lodi firefighter Jim McClain jumped and hissed, “Ow!” as his wife Helena began pinning his captain’s badge on his shirt at the department’s promotion ceremony Thursday.
She slightly jumped and giggled as McClain smiled.
It was a day of excitement and growth for the Lodi Fire Department as three of its members became captains and another was promoted to fire engineer.
McClain, Shange Langone and Chris Allen were promoted to fire captains in front of friends, family and city officials, while David Rabara was promoted to fire engineer.
“It is a rare opportunity to be able to (promote firefighters),” said Lodi Fire Chief Larry Rooney. “It is an important day in a firefighter’s life to reach the next level of achievement.”
Rooney said he initially told those who applied for promotions that there were few spots available and that “only two could be winners.”
But as Rooney pointed to the four men sitting in front of him Thursday, each and every one clearly rose above the promotion process.
Rabara was the first to receive his badge, which was pinned on by his father, Dave. Rabara, who has been with the department since November 2004, is also a fire investigator for the department.
Langone followed. Also a hazmat specialist, Langone started with the department in January 2001 and was promoted to fire engineer in April 2004.
McClain followed, and then Allen.
All had their wives and their children help pin their badges to their uniforms. At one point, Allen’s daughter dropped the pin that distinguishes a firefighter as a captain.
She hesitated for a moment, looking up at her father before she scrambled to the ground to pick the pin up.
“It’s OK,” Allen said quietly. “It’s not like anyone is watching.”
After the pinning ceremony, Rooney asked if each man would like to speak. Each man gave their thanks to their families for coming and to those who also attended the event.
McClain smiled, his hands resting behind him, as he made the audience a promise.
“I won’t let you down,” he said.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.