ANDERSON — The Anderson Board of Public Safety on Wednesday approved the hiring of 11 firefighters, which brings the department to 111 members.

The Anderson Fire Department is budgeted this year for 110 members.

Chief Dave Cravens said 70 applicants were interviewed and he described all of them as extraordinary candidates.

“They were an excellent group and well educated,” he said. “They will serve Anderson well.”

Cravens said all will take part in the 12-week fire department academy to receive training to be certified as Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2, Hazmat and Emergency Medical Technicians.

Dakota Cole, 28, said both his father and grandfather were firefighters in Anderson.

Alexander Etherington, 26, said his father has served as a firefighter in Noblesville for the past 25 years.

“I grew up in a fire house,” he said. “I like the brotherhood.”

Shelbi Oakley, the only new female firefighter, served two years in the U.S. Air Force and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Oakley has been working at Ascension St. Vincent Anderson Hospital as an EMT.

“I’m very excited,” she said.

Brandon Nave, 26, has been employed with Anderson Light & Power and was looking to make a career change.

Dillon Furnish, 23, has been working with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to my community,” he said of applying to be a firefighter.

Blake Abshire, 29, said his family has all been involved in community service.

His father is a teacher, his mother works for the Anderson Police Department and his stepfather is a police officer.

Austin Brizendine, 23, also said he was looking for a career in public service.

“I was pursuing a career as a police officer or firefighter,” the Lapel High School graduate said.

Zachary Powers, 29, served 11 years with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Kyle Kuklenski, 23, is a member of the Adams Township Volunteer Fire Department and has been working at Hoosier Fire Equipment.

David Stogner, 31, was employed by AT&T before deciding to take a different career path.

Jesse Gaw, 31, is a graduate of Highland High School and has a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.