Pittsburgh fire recruits join 'family' at graduation ceremony
The newest Pittsburgh firefighters swarmed their Highland Park training ground, showing onlookers their ability to clamber to the top of a seven-story tower, zoom to douse a fire in a metal pit, and jump from a window face-first down a ladder.
After a quick change into dress uniforms, the men returned to be sworn into their “new family.” The graduation ceremony on Friday was the first for fire recruits since 2008.
“Let me be the first to welcome you to the greatest family,” Capt. Edmund Farley told the crowd seated on bleachers and extra chairs. “Not only do you have your loved ones back, but you have 540 new brothers and sisters.”
The 27 recruits, all white male military veterans, spent 32 weeks in training, the longest of any recruit class, fire Chief Darryl Jones said.
“They received more training and more subject matter than ever before,” Jones said. “Back in the old days, the only thing you had to have was leather lungs and guts. Those are good, but I want someone who is thinking. This is a cerebral job now.”
Firefighter Larry Yakich, 35, of Banksville spent 13 years in the Air Force, earned an engineering degree from the University of Pittsburgh and worked as an engineer for the past two years. But he said he knew he would become a firefighter — following his father, uncle and brother into the profession.
“It's definitely more of an exciting job,” Yakich said. “I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
The recruits' training included sessions on emergency medicine, hazardous materials, vehicle rescues, water rescues and other skills.
Another class began in February, and 28 recruits should graduate in November.
“These recruits have trained harder and are better prepared, in my biased opinion, than any prior Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire recruit class,” said Battalion Chief Michael Riley, who oversees the academy.
When the second recruit class graduates, the number of Pittsburgh firefighters will grow to 618, still nearly 50 people short of the budgeted amount of 666, Jones said. About 140 firefighters are eligible to retire this year.
“We were low on manpower,” Jones said. “We had over 100 openings. We definitely needed the recruits.”
Firefighter Mark Rowan, 30, of Lincoln Place said he thought the training was as challenging, albeit in different ways, as that he received as a Marine.
“I'm really proud to be a part of this class,” Rowan said.
Margaret Harding is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto: Public has stake in Penguins
- Pittsburgh schools chief Lane stepping down next summer
- West Jefferson Hills schools close because of gun threat
- Construction to close roads in O’Hara, Baldwin Borough
- Belle Vernon woman visits ship like lander she helped build as WWII welder
- Gas cost, construction barrels coming down for Labor Day travelers
- Embezzled $14.8M could cause woes for North Side firm Matthews International
- Asking price for Penguins franchise said to be at a record $750M
- Pittsburgh Zoo staff caring for African lion suffering from seizure condition
- Truck hits teen cyclist, goes over Brighton Heights hillside