The Lexington Fire Department welcomed 27 new probationary firefighters at a graduation ceremony for the 69th class in the department’s history on Friday.
The probationary firefighters, who will be spread throughout stations and units all across the city, will be put into action as early as next Monday.
“Today you are probationary firefighters,” Fire Chief Jason Wells said in a speech during the ceremony, which drew a small chuckle from the audience. “If all goes well, in one year, you’ll earn the title of firefighter.”
The recruits turned probationary firefighters were each individually honored on stage before receiving their badge. Each also gave a pledge to serve and protect the community to the best of their ability.
“It’s the best job in the world,” said Tamera Taylor, who graduated from the academy and will be joining station one. “I just started and it’s truly an honor. I can’t believe I get to serve Lexington and I’m really excited about it.”
Taylor was the only woman in the graduating class. She first developed an interest in serving the community during basic training, which prepared her for a six-year stint with the national guard.
Taylor said she wanted to be a firefighter because she wanted to be challenged and help people.
“I wanted something challenging that would challenge me every day to be a better person,” said Taylor, who has lived in Lexington for the last six years.
Joshua Simpson, one of the 27 graduates, won the Carl Travis Award, which is given to the recruit who is most likely to step up as the “firefighters’ firefighter.” The award, which is voted on by fellow recruits, was named after Travis, who tragically died in 1983 in a tractor accident.
Alexander Carpenter was given the Academic Achievement Award for having the highest grade point average during the academy. Carpenter averaged a 94.5.
Bradley Newman was awarded Recruit Firefighter Extra Effort Award, which was voted on by academy staff.