WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WENY) - It was full house inside Watkins Glen community center today, as friends and family came together to honor this year's State Academy of Fire Science graduating class.
"Its been a hard 11 weeks, all 57 of us have put in 500 hours of intense and very physically enduring training. We're all very happy to be here, it was a lot of hard work, we've accomplished a lot in the last 11 weeks," said Gordon Austin Jr, one of the graduates from the Academy.
This year's graduating class, the Academy's 75th, is the largest recruit firefighter training program the Academy has had since the inception of the program in 1984. That year, the program had 60 graduating firefighters. The State Fire Academy's Deputy Chief says they're now starting to see a trend.
"It seems that we're in a 20 year retirement cycle now, which leads to more hiring. In addition a lot of suburban fire departments that were once combination departments or purely volunteer due to societal needs now have hired career people," said Greg Tsibulsky, Deputy Chief of New York State Fire Academy.
All of today's graduates will become full-time firefighters across the twin tiers and say they're excited to serve their community. As well as some, who are happy to be following in their father's footsteps.
"It means a lot to have my son become a firefighter and follow in you know his dads foot steps and grandfathers footsteps. Its kind of neat," said Daniel Sincock, a father of a graduate.
The next class will begin this fall. The Academy is hoping to encourage more men and women to become firefighters.