LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Forty new firefighters will soon serve the cities of Louisville and Shively after graduating from the Louisville Fire Academy 182nd Recruit Class Friday.
It was a moment more than six months in the making, an occasion Donovan Sims, 24, had been counting down to for 27 weeks.
"I got to see my family walking in," smiled Sims.
"Welcome to the graduation ceremony of the 182nd Recruit Class from the Louisville Fire Training Academy," announced Louisville Fire & Rescue Chief Gregory Frederick.
For dozens of recruits, the journey began last September with 2,300 applicants vying for just over 40 positions. Inside Memorial Auditorium, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer helped reward the recruits that persevered with badges, diplomas and a sworn oath.
"You truly are the best of the best," said Mayor Fischer to the group of soon-to-be graduates.
For some, the special occasion proved to be a tradition.
"My dad was a firefighter. My brother's a firefighter, and myself for 23 years," said Louisville Fire & Rescue Captain Bruce Himes after watching his son, Tyler, receive his diploma. "To see him carry it on, it's fantastic!"
For others, the ceremony came full of firsts.
"This graduating recruit class is one of the most diverse in our history," began Chief Frederick, "including three female recruits which hasn't happened since my recruit class in 1984."
As of Friday, the graduating class of scholars, servicemen and prior firefighters were officially ready to apply their training to real life situations in Louisville and Shively. For Sims and his fellow graduates, Friday marked a milestone they will likely remember as the start of a lifelong commitment.
"Walking out," began Sims, "it's just a different chapter in my life. I'm ready to succeed and excel at that and see where the next 25 plus years take me."
"Guess what 182?" Began Louisville Fire Academy Recruit Class 182 Orator Michael Quinn, "Today is only the beginning."
The new firefighters will report for duty at their new fire companies starting Sunday.
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