Fire Academy Celebrates Largest Graduation in History

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Richard Kontas

The Verdugo Fire Academy graduated 45 cadets in its largest class ever on Jan. 7.

Angel Silva, El Vaquero Staff Reporter

Verdugo Fire Academy’s Class XIV graduated on Jan. 7 with 45 students, the largest number of graduates in the history of the Verdugo program.

“We said early on we were going to take as many people to graduation as possible, and here we stand, 45 strong,” said Cadet Brent Pattison.

The graduates worked on basic fire training such as physical fitness, first aid, team exercises and firefighting technology, as well as leadership skills.

“Chief DiGiovanna recently asked us what we learned other than firefighter skills, and thinking about the countless things coming to mind it led us to realize it’s not all about us,” said Cadet and Class XIV President Adam O’Campo. “We learned that [being a firefighter] means to serve the community, to have that drive and will to go out there and give back, regardless of our occupation.”

Class XIV was dedicated to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and to fallen local firefighters Glenn Allen and Kevin Moore. A moment of silence and a bagpipe solo was held in their memory, followed by a film highlighting the attacks on the Twin Towers and footage of the fallen firefighters.

“It’s so overwhelming to see all the love in the room right now,” said Cadet Kyle Morre.

Awards were given to certain cadets who had exceeded expectations during their time in the Academy. Eleven cadets earned the Perfect Attendance award, and another 11 earned the Physical Fitness award. Cadet Bryan Andrews earned the most honors receiving the Volunteer Award, Highest Academic Achievement Award and the Top Cadet Award. Cadet Brett Pattison earned the Outstanding Leadership Award.

Also present for the ceremony was this year’s Fire Academy class, Class XV, to witness what awaits them if they successfully complete their training.

Afterwards, Class XV was asked to step out so that Class XIV could receive their final order – the final dismissal, symbolic of a cadet’s successful completion of the program.

The graduates will be working at Pasadena, Arcadia and Glendale Fire Departments. Academy graduates can receive the Firefighter I certification after completing one year of work as a part-time firefighter or six months as a full-time firefighter.

The Verdugo Fire Academy is a year-round paramilitary program aimed at training those interested in a firefighting career, with new recruits starting classes each January. Classes are held on Thursday evenings as well as Saturdays and Sundays. Class XV started on Jan. 5.