COCONUT GROVE (CBS4) – Graduation isn’t just for students in high school or college. Friday morning, nearly 30 new recruits graduated from the Miami Fire Rescue Training Center in Coconut Grove.
These graduates were selected from 2,400 applicants who applied in February of 2008 in a recruitment drive where many of them stood in line for days at a chance for a career as a Miami firefighter.
“I camped out for three nights to turn in my application, slept in the cold and everything,” said newly sworn in firefighter Marc Alexandre.
“I was in the line with my daughter, she was maybe five months old we were there for the whole weekend,” said Heidi Enriquez who was also sworn in Friday.
It was a weekend well worth it and one that changed Heidi’s life when she finally got a call from the Miami Fire Department, almost two years later.
“This is all I wanted, thank God I’m here today,” she said.
“The fact that we had over 2,400 applicants proves that first of all it’s a coveted position, people respect the career of a firefighter and secondly, it’s a sign of the economy,” said Miami Fire Rescue Chief Maurice Kemp.
This is the third class of new recruits to graduate since that massive recruitment drive in 2008.
“Because of the budget issue and budget crisis there were times when I thought, if I was going to get the call,” said Alexandre.
According to Miami-Fire rescue officials, they didn’t lose any members of the class. They started with 29 recruits and 29 graduated on Friday after they endured 17 weeks of grueling training.
“I’m very privileged and honored to be a part of a great department,” said Alexandre. “This is the only department that I wanted to work for.”
The class of new firefighters has joined one of the most respected fire rescue departments in the country which is also home to the highly recognized City of Miami Urban Search and Rescue Team.
The first shift for the newbies starts on Sunday.