LIHU‘E — Five firefighters and an ocean safety officer were presented their new ranks during a special pinning-on ceremony, Friday at the Lihu‘e Civic Center, Mo‘ikeha courtyard.
“We recognized these men for continuing to strive for excellence in their fields and for their dedication to public service,” said Kaua‘i Fire Chief Robert Westerman, who was joined by Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. in presenting the promoted firemen and lifeguard to their colleagues, family and friends.
James Ingham, formerly of Kailua, O‘ahu, and a graduate of Punahou School and Denver University, was promoted to a district supervisor of the Hanalei district as a Water Safety Officer III, states a county release.
Following several career paths, Ingham returned to the water in 2006 and said he finds working on the North Shore to be very rewarding because he enjoys helping others, making a difference and giving back to the community.
He looks forward to continuing to contribute to the community.
Justin Ka‘eo Kinoshita is one of two Fire Fighter II, the other being Sean Kitamura.
Kinoshita, a Waimea High School graduate and the Hawai‘i Pacific University, considers himself to be “the proudest father on the Westside of Kaua‘i,” enjoying hanging out with his son, watching sports on television and water sports.
He thanks the KFD for the opportunity to represent the department as a FFII and thanks the many firefighters who helped him reach this rank.
Kitamura, a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i, has been a firefighter for 10 years, six with the Honolulu Fire Department. Living in Kapa‘a with his wife Chesne and two sons, Cullen and Conner, Kitamura looks forward to continuing his service to Kaua‘i and thanks his captains Mark Jimenez, Jason Ornellas, Jim Read and Alan Saiki for their excellence in leadership and dedication to the department.
Colombia-born Francisco Garcia was one of two Fire Fighter III presented, the other being Jeremie Makepa.
Garcia, moving to Hawai‘i in 1997 to escape the violence in Colombia had no trouble adapting to island life, enjoying everything Kaua‘i has to offer.
Earning his degree in Fire Science from the Honolulu Community College, Garcia joined KFD in 2003 and in 2007 was recognized as the department’s Outstanding Employee of the Year and promoted to Fire Fighter II. In 2009, Garcia was promoted to Rescue Specialist and in 2010, along with Captain Metivier, Captain Abreu, and Rescue Specialist Roy Constantino, earned the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award for Valor, one of the most prestigious awards presented to firefighters by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Makepa, the son of Sam and Marie Makepa of Anahola, has been serving KFD for eight years and will be assigned to the Fire Prevention Bureau where he will help promote fire safety by educating Kaua‘i’s community. Makepa is married to Kahelelani and have a daughter, Wailana, and two sons, Waika and Wahianu.
Tracy Cummings, a 20-year veteran of the department, was promoted to Fire Captain, rounding out the short ceremony.
Cummings started his career in 1991, serving at different stations around the island before being promoted to Fire Fighter II in 1999. In 2003, Cummings was promoted to Fire Fighter II and worked out of the Waimea and Koloa stations before being assigned to the HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) crew at the new Kaiakea Station.
Cummings is proud to be the coordinator for the department’s honor guard and is also a part of the Hawai‘i Urban Search and Rescue Team, thanking his fiance Susan, his four children, and fellow firefighters, past and present, for their love, support and brotherhood throughout his career.
“We are grateful to these men for putting the lives of others above their own in the interest of keeping our community safe,” Carvalho said. “I’d also like to recognize their families for supporting them along the way. We are thankful for all that you do and are very proud to have you represent our county.”
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.