WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville Fire Department welcomed its newest member Friday during a brief ceremony at station two on Airport Boulevard.
Santa Cruz native Jason Larson, 28, said he has wanted to be a firefighter since he graduated from Harbor High School and started taking fire technology classes at Cabrillo College.
Larson said he was exposed to every fire department in the county as he went through the 18-week academy and classes at Cabrillo, and that the South County department rose to the top of the list.
“I feel great,” he said. “Working for Watsonville Fire Department was initially my dream job.”
In addition to his studies to become a firefighter, Larson served in the U.S. Navy from 2011-2015, where he was twice deployed overseas.
Larson was hired with funds from Measure G, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2014 to help fund the city’s fire and police departments.
Interim Fire Chief Watsonville Rudy Lopez said that WPD puts a great deal of time and effort into selecting its firefighters.
“A lot is expected from us in our community,” he said. “A lot of trust is given to us. We have a responsibility to ensure that we hire the best, and it all starts with character, and a desire to help people.”
The process includes a background check and an extensive interview process.
Officially considered a probationary firefighter, Larson will receive quarterly evaluations for one year before becoming a full-fledged member of the department.
“It’s my job to hold them accountable for what they sign up to do,” Lopez said.
Editor's Note: This article will publish in the April 26 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.