Cadets Are Now One Step Closer to Being Firefighters

El Vaquero Staff Writer

The cadets of Class Six, who had extinguished 1,300-degree flames, jumped from three-story buildings and trudged up mountainsides together, stood at attention on Aug. 31 at the Alex Theater for their graduation ceremonies.

The Glendale Arroyo Seco Fire Academy class entered the Glendale theater with a military precision that drew a standing ovation, one that lasted until all of the cadets were seated onstage.

Greg Fish, the assistant administrator for the Academy, met the students with a positive welcome message. “These cadets have endured extensive mental and physical activity,” said Fish. “They have tirelessly trained from dusk until dawn.”

The Administrator of the Academy, Gerald Gardner, introduced the instructors and dignitaries, lauding them for their dedication to the program.

“All of the instructors and administrators work full-time in the [Glendale Fire Department],” said Gardner. The seven instructors are on duty an average of 56 hours a week in addition to working weekends at the academy.

Donald Beckarmann, the president of Class Six presented the message for the class, which drew laughter and thunderous applause. “We have been put through the mental and physical and grinder of this academy,” said Beckarmann, “and then we pay for it.”

He spoke of the 12 months of strenuous physical training that his class endured, something primarily responsible for dropping the class enrollment from 57 to 34 in the first few months.

“We have been exposed to a lot,” said Beckermann, ” and I never knew how much we would grow.”

Cadet Tracy Kern was formerly a multi-media specialist before leaving his job to pursue fire fighting. He put together a short video highlighting their training. A clip of a cadet standing on a third story ledge, stubbornly closing his eyes and refusing to jump to onto the large pad below drew laughter from the audience.

Don Biggs, assistant fire chief for the Glendale Fire Department was the keynote speaker. He spoke of the unique unity of class six, who claim “excellence through unity” as their motto.

“There are thousands of people who want to do what you do,” said Biggs, “but they don’t have the will and commitment you do.”

Four unique awards were presented toward the end of the two-hour ceremony. Douglas Hall was awarded for the Best Notebook, Justin Coons took home the Fastest Physical Agility Award and Jose Escondido was recognized for Highest Academic Performance as well as being named the Honor Cadet. The Roy Klein Instructor of the Year Award was given to Andy Ramirez.

The class, parts of which hail from New York and other parts of the United States, was given over eight certifications upon completion of the academy. Certifications include Hazardous Materials Operations and Basic Wild Land Firefighting.

He also encouraged the cadets, who range in age from 18 to 38, to continue to pursue their careers in fire fighting as graduation does not guarantee job placement. To date, four cadets have secured jobs
The 36 cadets who graduated comprise the sixth class to complete the Basic Fire Fighter Academy. The state accredited Academy works in conjunction with Glendale Community College.

The 12-month program takes place on Saturday and Sunday and totals over 720 hours of training. This accomodates the cadets who have families and full time jobs.Class Seven has already begun their training.

“We believe in developing young people in the community,” said Biggs. “It is a career of status and high regard.”