Left to right, CCFR Captain John Adams and Engineer Sam Berni stand before family and friends during a badge pinning ceremony on Thursday at Station 1 in Juneau. Adams was promoted to captain and Berni to engineer. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Left to right, CCFR Captain John Adams and Engineer Sam Berni stand before family and friends during a badge pinning ceremony on Thursday at Station 1 in Juneau. Adams was promoted to captain and Berni to engineer. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

CCFR celebrates two promotions with badge pinning ceremony

Firefighters John Adams and Sam Berni move up the ladder.

Capital City Fire/Rescue firefighters Sam Berni and John Adams aren’t just climbing fire ladders these days, they’re climbing department ladders, as well.

On Thursday, May 4, CCFR celebrated the badge pinning ceremony at Station 1 for both Berni, who was promoted to engineer, and Adams, who was promoted to captain. CCFR Fire Marshal Dan Jager said the event of promotion is a “significant accomplishment” for the entire staff and department.

CCFR Richard Etheridge swears in Captain John Adams and Engineer Sam Berni during their badge pinning ceremony at Station 1 on Thursday. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

CCFR Richard Etheridge swears in Captain John Adams and Engineer Sam Berni during their badge pinning ceremony at Station 1 on Thursday. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“They (Berni and Adams) have taken the time to study, prepare and test for the next level of responsibility,” Jager said. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the culmination of not only the staff members accomplishment, but their family, friends and peers that have been a part of that process.”

Family, friends and colleagues gathered to hear opening remarks from CCFR Chief Richard Etheridge, as well as hear Berni and Adams give speeches, as well before family members of each of the men were invited to pin new badges to their uniforms. Etheridge said, for him, badge pinning ceremonies are one of the most rewarding parts about being a chief.

“To see folks come in with very little experience and you just get to watch them grow, it’s like watching kids grow up, the epiphanies they have and the realizations and the levels of responsibility they take on, it’s just amazing to watch people flourish,” Etheridge said. “Who knows where or how far their careers will go, it’s just an amazing thing to be a part of. These two are fantastic and they stand on their own.”

CCFR Engineer Sam Berni’s partner Amy Dittmar pins Berni’s new badge to his uniform during a promotion ceremony held at Station 1 on Thursday. Berni was also joined by his parents George and Gretchen Berni. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

CCFR Engineer Sam Berni’s partner Amy Dittmar pins Berni’s new badge to his uniform during a promotion ceremony held at Station 1 on Thursday. Berni was also joined by his parents George and Gretchen Berni. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

Berni, who was joined by his parents, George and Gretchen Berni, and partner, Amy Dittmar, has been a firefighter for over 10 years between Washington and Alaska. Berni said the journey to the role of engineer has been a “long road.”

“I started with volunteering and then moved towards the professional side, so for me, I think at this moment it’s just been a culmination of all the hard work I’ve put in to get here,” Berni said. “This community is so special to me and it’s something that in my seventh year here I feel like they’ve adopted me. It feels like a big family and that’s why I love working here and I love working with this department.”

Adams, who back in November was recognized as the Fire and Life Safety Instructor of the Year for the state of Alaska by the department of public safety, was joined on Thursday by his two daughters, Morgan and Raegan, as well as his wife, Jennifer.

[CCFR captain recognized for commitment to fire safety education]

Adams has been with the department for 18 years and within that time he’s served as a firefighter, engineer and acting station officer for the last 13 years before serving as an acting station captain for the last year. Adams said the feeling of now being promoted to full captain was a “surreal experience.”

CCFR Captain John Adams’ youngest daughter Morgan attaches a pin to his lapel during his badge pinning ceremony at Station 1 on Thursday. Adams was also joined by his eldest daughter Raegan and his wife Jennifer. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

CCFR Captain John Adams’ youngest daughter Morgan attaches a pin to his lapel during his badge pinning ceremony at Station 1 on Thursday. Adams was also joined by his eldest daughter Raegan and his wife Jennifer. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)

“I enjoy what I do, I get to help people having their worst day and it’s a career that I’ve loved,” Adams said. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, so I’m happy for my family, they’re very enthused. I’m proud to be promoted, it’s a great honor. I knew it was time to test about six months ago; I was given this opportunity to be a long-term acting captain and I’ve enjoyed the challenge and responsibility that it gave me. So, for me this has been a 17-year journey in the making.”

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at jonson.kuhn@juneauempire.com.

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