The 14th Cycle of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services is set to see off 43 new firefighters today.
Following the final stage of the fire academy—evaluation—that concluded this week, 43 cadets will gain the title of firefighter today after the graduation ceremony that will be held at the Kensington Resort Saipan.
According to a previous article on the Saipan Tribune, there were initially 52 cadets at the beginning of the academy. However, only 43 completed the first phase and successfully entered the second. Of the 43 cadets, seven were from Rota, six from Tinian, and 30 from the CNMI.
The first phase of the academy, also known as the Red phase, consisted of intense physical fitness training, discipline, and the ethics of being a cadet and being a firefighter. The cadets have now completed the academic phase and the hands-on and evaluation stage.
DFEMS launched the emergency Fire Academy earlier this year to make up for the loss of the nine firefighters who were terminated for refusing to get vaccinated. The department was left with only 114 personnel at that time.
Initially, the target date for the start of the academy was sometime around June, but that had to be pushed back. The academy officially began on July 19.
A total of 23 individuals initially signed a petition against the mandatory vaccination. However, a number of these individual eventually had themselves vaccinated and only nine were eventually terminated. Those nine individuals filed a lawsuit against the department and its commissioner, Dennis Mendiola.
Last September, Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph Camacho granted the agreement between the nine firefighters, DFEMS, and Mendiola to dismiss the case without prejudice. That means the plaintiffs can re-file their suit with the court if they choose.
Prior to that, on Sept. 13, the court issued an order denying the preliminary injunction to reinstate the terminated firefighters.
The court denied the plaintiff’s motion on three grounds: they failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, the preliminary injunction was not a proper remedy for economic harm, and the plaintiffs did not have a strong likelihood of success on the merits for any of their claims, the level of threat of irreparable harm was not present, and the public’s interest in protecting health outweighed the interest of plaintiffs.