More than 300 probationary firefighters graduated from the Fire Academy on Tuesday morning after a “grueling” 19-week training period.
Brand-new firefighters gathered with their colleagues, friends, and family for a graduation ceremony at the Christian Cultural Center Center on Flatlands Avenue as they prepared to step into the ranks of New York’s Bravest. The graduates have spent four months learning how to combat fires and provide lifesaving medical care.
“You are a member, as of today, of the greatest fire department in the world, serving the greatest city in the world,” FDNY commissioner Laura Kavanagh told the crowd. “Graduation day is an amazing day because it is a culmination of all the hard work and discipline that you had to exert to get here.”
A number of the day’s graduates came from a family history of firefighters, Kavanagh said, including salutatorian Edward Morrison, who followed his father’s footsteps into the FDNY. Three are the children of firefighters who died in service on 9/11 or as a result of time spent at Ground Zero after the tragedy.
“Whether you entered this job knowing full well the dangers from a family legacy of service or you decided to take the first leap and be the first in your family to choose this career, what you all have in common is bravery,” Kavanagh said. “And making the choice to serve others to honor the memories of those who came before you, and to choose to make a commitment to something that is so much larger than yourselves. It is what makes you and every member of this department so special.”
The most recent graduating class includes 67 former members of the U.S. military and 11 women.
FDNY Chief of Department John Hodgens reflected on his days in training – and advised the “probies” to keep learning and growing as they get started as full-fledged firefighters.
“Your instructors at the academy have given you all the tools you need to succeed – but your education is not over,” he said. “When you get to your firehouses, you will be working with firefighters who have many years of experience on the job. Embrace their knowledge, listen to their experiences. They were once where you are now, and they are there to help you become what you can be.”
The new members will be assigned to their first-ever firehouses across the five boroughs in the coming days. The FDNY’s more than 10,000 firefighters spend their days hosing down fires, rescuing people trapped and injured by by flames, administering emergency medical care, and more.
“You, the probies sitting in front of me, are our greatest hope for the future,” Kavanagh said. “Your purposeful mission and dedication to public service is an inspiration for our city and the world. The FDNY’s success is based on its ability to adapt to whatever new challenges come its way. The department you enter will not be the same department you leave. what will not change is the mission of serving the public, protecting lives and property, showing up when people need help, and that sense of family that you already feel.”
— Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell