Sixteen firefighters graduated Wednesday from the Utica fire academy. That came after fourteen weeks of hard training at the academy.
"It was demanding. It was vigorous. When we first got there it was more of a culture shock, you know, living in an academy for fourteen weeks with a group of guys,” said new firefighter Daniel Taurisani.
“The past fourteen weeks they've been just an incredible journey unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It’s been absolutely incredible," said new firefighter James Zwijacz.
The dangers of the job are on the minds of the new firefighter’s family’s
“You do think about it, about the risks they're taking,” said James’ mom Annmarie Giannola,
but it’s a job that somebody has to do, so I’m glad that he's doing something he enjoys doing."
Six of the sixteen new firefighters will be working in Utica. Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks said that will help the problem of understaffing.
"We're not, nowhere near where we should be. We are a very, very lean undermanned department. It brings us up to our legal table of organization and it'll be a great help to us getting these, injecting these six people into our roster," said Chief Brooks.
The new firefighters said the thought of their first fire call brings on an adrenaline rush.
“It’s going to be pretty intense, probably very nerve raking,” said Taurisani,” we did the live burns down at our training facility and just with that simulated burn session it was very intense.”
They said being a part of the firefighting brotherhood is powerful.
“It’s just, it’s surreal, honestly. It’s almost difficult to describe. You have to experience it for yourself," said Zwijacz.
The new firefighters credit their great instructors at the fire academy for getting them prepared for the rigors of being a firefighter.