AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- There might not be a better time than this Fire Prevention Week to bring on these new firefighters.
“These are the types of things that keep the department moving forward. It’s not only a great day for the Augusta Fire Department, it’s a great day for our city,” said Chief Antonio Burden. “Because these are, once again, new guardians of our city.”
The Fire Department graduated 16 fire recruits of Classes 2210 and 2203 at the ceremony.
Last year, the department graduated the highest trained recruit class in the history of the city.
Burden says this year was another first for the department, as they celebrated the first graduates of their new accelerated fire training program.
This is a new program, where they bring firefighters that are previously trained, they review that training, and prepare them for the real deal in just 6 weeks.
But as they prepare to enter the workforce, some say it’s their hunger for learning that will help them in this next chapter.
“At the end of the day if you stop being a student, then you’ve stopped too short. Every day in the fire service is an opportunity to learn something new and execute something differently. The fire service is ever evolving, so I need to be the same,” said recruit Keirre Booker.
City leaders say it is wonderful to see the dedication of these recruits to protect those in the area.
Interim Administrator Takiyah Douse, District 9 Commissioner Francine Scott, and Chief of Staff Jasmine were all in attendance at the ceremony.
Commissioner Scott says it’s not only exciting to see a new generation of firefighters, but a group of young men that will take the reigns down the road.
“We are very excited to have 16 brand new firefighters,” said Scott. “It’s important that we recruit new and young firefighters to come to Augusta to be in the workforce. We’re looking forward to working with them, and also making sure that we recruit. And when we recruit we actually keep the younger people to come in to take our place in the workforce.”
The department does have vacancies for the moment, but Burden says this ceremony and their new program will take care of those openings over time.
He adds says though their time as a recruit is over, this ceremony marks the opportunity the young men have to be the change they want to see.
“In the program we talked about change, and making a change in the community, said Burden. “And this signifies that change, because they are a new group of young men that are coming into the department and are giving service to this community.”
Booker, who’s been in Augusta for his whole life, says this achievement only makes him more enthusiastic about serving the CSRA.
“It’s a really good accomplishment. I’ve been looking forward to working in the fire service since I’ve known about it. But finally being able to execute what I’ve been trained on is really satisfying.”
It’s a milestone for these dedicated individuals–but their job as a certified firefighter is only just beginning.