By Aila Boyd
Botetourt County Department of Fire & EMS Chief Jason Ferguson presented six new recruits at the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors meeting last Tuesday. The recruits weren’t brought on through any kind of new initiative, but rather to fill full-time vacancies.
The day before the recruits were presented at the Board of Supervisors meeting, they attended their first day of classes at the Roanoke Regional Fire-EMS Academy. A total of 34 recruits are currently going through the program. At a minimum, they spend five days a week and between eight and 10 hours a day at the academy. A graduation ceremony will be held on July 10. “Our hope is for all of these gentlemen to walk across the stage and be pinned with a badge to become full-fledged fire and EMS providers on the streets in Botetourt,” Ferguson said.
The recruits are Joseph Mackie, Hunter Smith, Ben Meadows, Nathan Newville, William “Billy” Ferguson, and Nathan Shields.
Originally from Northern Virginia, Mackie has been working in the physical training and fitness industry for the past 10 years. He had both coached and competed in CrossFit physical fitness. Mackie comes from a family with multiple military and public safety servants. He is engaged with plans to get married in August.
Smith is from the Bent Mountain area of Roanoke County. He has an established personal business in commercial landscaping. In 2018, he began to volunteer with his local station in Roanoke County. He found such enjoyment at the station that he decided to pursue it as a full-time job.
Meadows is originally from the Iron Gate area of Alleghany County, where he has volunteered for the past 10 years. Upon graduating high school, Meadows became employed as a mechanic with a long-term goal of becoming a career firefighter. In 2019, he completed his training as a firefighter 1 and EMT.
Originally from Fauquier County, Newville now resides in Bedford County. He began in public safety as a volunteer with Prince William County, where he achieved his EMT certification. He recently got married in fall of 2019.
Ferguson is from Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., where he began a career in music and sound engineering. He worked with several rock bands and two music venues as a sound engineer and production manager. Ferguson has been volunteering for the Cave Spring Rescue Squad for the past year, where he achieved his EMT certification. He is married and his wife is a nurse in Roanoke.
Originally from Chesapeake, Shields’s family moved to the Blue Ridge area of Botetourt when he was 7. He grew up in the Blue Ridge community and started in public safety as a volunteer with Read Mountain Fire & Rescue. Shields is a graduate of Jefferson College of Health Sciences with a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Services, as well as his Nationally Registered Paramedic. He was already working as a part-time paramedic with Botetourt Fire & EMS for a little over a year, prior to applying to become a full-time firefighter/paramedic.
“Thank you and welcome to Botetourt County. We look forward to you staying here a long, long time,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Billy Martin said. “Being a firefighter isn’t easy. It’s dangerous. You know what you’re doing and you’re trained for it.”