SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The Union Fire Academy congratulated 26 recruits who finished basic firefighter training courses which ran in the Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015.

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Seven of the graduates, Alexander Wright, Robert Villegas, Nicholas Letkowski, Matthew Blanck, Rick Villafrade, Tyler Bowman, and Raymond Kaiser will joined Scotch Plains Fire Department upon completion of the training. SPFD now has 32 firefighters on staff.

“We’ve done well recruiting. I have two captains who work on that primarily,” said Fire Chief John Ellis. “We’ve put on ten people in the last year in a half alone.”

Raymond Kaeser III earned the Chief Anthony Schepis Award for Excellence in Firefighter 1 while Robert Villegas earned both the Schepis Award for Excellence and the Battalion Chief Ken Nocera Memorial Award for Outstanding Excellence in Firefighter 1.

The annual graduation ceremony was held at Union County College in Cranford with an awards ceremony for individual merits.