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A badge ceremony was recently conducted at the Crossroads Bible Church to recognize the accomplishments of local firefighters as they take the next step in their careers.
One battalion chief, two captains and 13 driver engineers were formally promoted during the Jan. 24 event.
Among those promoted was Los Alamos native Manny Pacheco who advanced from firefighter II to driver engineer.
“My dad was a wildland firefighter so I always knew firefighting was in my blood and you know how we all want to be like our dads,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco, 24, began his career with LAFD at the age of 20 and said two of his captains told him to begin preparing for promotions immediately. He began studying and taking courses such as the EMT basic course in the emergency medical field in Albuquerque.
“It’s the baseline of what we do in providing medical services to the community,” Pacheco said, adding that he is now a certified and nationally registered paramedic.
Pacheco is drawn to the challenge of never knowing what situation he and his colleagues will encounter when they answer a call for assistance from the public.
“I love being put on the spot and having to use my head each time we go out on a call,” he said.
Pacheco is a 2005 graduate of Los Alamos High School. Heeding his captains’ advice has served him well, he said, because he studied and became involved and proved he was an asset to the department.
“This was so important in getting this promotion because it was very competitive,” Pacheco said. “I went up against 36 others and just 13 were promoted. With that kind of competition, you really have to bring something to the table – you have to make yourself an asset.”
Pacheco is married with a son, Diego, 2, and his wife is 20 weeks pregnant with their daughter.
Brian Nickerson was promoted to EMS battalion chief. He just arrived from Wright City, Mo., were he served the last five years as chief. He has been a career firefighter for 22 years and a volunteer firefighter for 10 years.
“The LAFD is a very progressive, professional organization, the resources are much greater and the Los Alamos National Laboratory makes it especially unique to work here,” he said.
Nickerson, 43, lives in White Rock and has adjusted to life in Los Alamos County well.
“This community is a great place to live and work and there’s lots of activities such as hiking and I’m absolutely happy to be here.”
Two of the driver engineers, Raul Manzanares and Jason Block, were unable to attend the ceremony due to other commitments and will be recognized at special ceremony in the near future, said Assistant Chief EMS/Training Mark Sandoval.
Fire Chief Doug Tucker said he is proud of the department’s newest battalion chief, driver engineers and captains.
“These folks have stepped up to the challenge of moving our department into the future,” Tucker said. “These promotions are a major step in their careers and their accomplishments speak volumes to their dedication to our community, LANL and NNSA.
Newly promoted firefighters:
Battalion Chief Brian Nickerson
Capt. Gerard Coriz
Capt. Michael Gill
Driver Engineer Ernest Agnew
Driver Engineer Daniel Archuleta
Driver Engineer Joseph Baca
Driver Engineer Chris Bartlett
Driver Engineer Chris Block
Driver Engineer Micah Brittelle
Driver Engineer Tim Johnson
Driver Engineer Michael Lewis
Driver Engineer Raul Manzanares
Driver Engineer Daniel McBride
Driver Engineer Aaron McNiff
Driver Engineer Manuel Pacheco
Driver Engineer Daniel Sholder