When Fall 2021 College of Western Idaho (CWI) Fire Service Technology graduate, Justin Smith, completed his training and hiring process with Nampa Fire Protection District (NFPD) to become a full-time firefighter, he was honored at a swearing-in ceremony. There he was presented with his badge, which is typically pinned on by family or friends. However, Smith asked CWI Director of Fire Service Technology, Darrin Raskopf, to have the honor and pin his badge on him.
“The whole reason I am part of this program at CWI is to help get other people into a career in the fire service,” Raskopf said. “I loved every day of my career, and if I can be a part of another person’s journey and help them along the way it is a great reward.”
Smith said he does not have much family in the area, so it was a no brainer to ask Raskopf to bestow the honor. Raskopf was the first-person Smith talked to about a career in fire service and even helped register him for CWI Fire classes.
“He was always willing to take time out of his day to answer any questions I had along the way,” Smith said. “I felt like it would be very meaningful if the person who helped start the process for me was the one who welcomed me into the next phase of my career! He has really played an important role in my fire service career, and I will always be very grateful for his support!”
Raskopf, who was in the fire service for 23 years, said the badge pinning ceremony is a centuries old tradition and he knows the importance of it when someone begins their career.
“I specifically remember a few things along my career and the badge pinning 25 years ago is a memory I can still picture exactly like it was yesterday,” Raskopf said. “To have Justin ask me to pin his badge is a huge honor I will remember now for the next 25 years as this is the first time I have gotten to do this for somebody. I am eternally grateful and looking forward to seeing Justin progress in his career from here forward.”
Smith’s new job with NFPD will include responding to fires, car accidents, medical calls, public assists, and other types of emergencies.
While Smith now works full-time as a first responder, he is continuing to finish earning his degree at CWI. He credits CWI for giving him the tools and resources to help make his dream job become a reality. Through his connections he interned with Nampa Fire, where he was able get first-hand experience from crew members, and even go out on calls.
“I can say that CWI has played a pivotal role in my fire service career so far,” Smith said. “They have great instructors who really want to see you succeed.”
Those interested in learning more about Fire Service programs can email Raskopf at email@example.com, or call 208.562.2671.