The ranks of “Lexington’s Bravest” grew on Friday as the city fire department celebrated the graduation of Recruit Class 62.
The graduating recruit class, which is made up of 24 men, went through 22 weeks of training before rising to the rank of probationary firefighter. On Friday, they earned their badges and heard words of encouragement from Fire Chief Kristin Chilton, commissioner of public safety Ronnie Bastin and other fire officials.
For one recruit graduate, the work began in high school. Nathaniel Hall, 23, was a student at Fayette County Public Schools’ Eastside Technical Center, where he learned the tricks of the firefighting trade from retired Lexington firefighter Tim Marshall.
“When I went into my senior year of high school I didn’t even know what I wanted to be,” Hall said. “I just thought I might try to get on as a police officer or maybe a factory worker somewhere, but (Marshall) sparked the fire in me and the love for fire service.”
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Dorothy Young, Hall’s mother, said Hall has had some sort of fire in him all along. When he was 5 years old, he caught his bedroom on fire.
“The (fire) chief even way back then said, ‘You need to watch this one, he has no remorse,’” Young said.
When the Homeland Security and Fire/Emergency Services track at Eastside Technical Center began in 2006, it mainly focused on law enforcement, according to Travis Manley, the center’s dean of students. A few years later, Marshall joined the program to bring a focus for students more interested in firefighting.
The Eastside program has produced police officers, an FBI agent and military officers, but so far Hall is the first from the school to join the Lexington Fire Department, Manley said.
“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Hall said on Friday. “Graduating high school, I thought that was a big thing. This smashes that completely.”
After being sworn in, the department’s 24 new probationary firefighters learned their platoon assignments. Once their shifts begin on Monday, they will serve one year as probationary firefighters before officially becoming Lexington firefighters.
At the ceremony Friday, the Carl Travis Award, named for a former Lexington firefighter known for being “the first to step up,” went to probationary firefighter Thomas Sacca. Probationary firefighter Ryan Chaplin won awards for both academic achievement and extra effort.