Firefighter Academy Graduates Have Burning Desire to Give Back

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– They come from all different background, but for the 10 students who recently completed the Fire Academy in Grand Rapids this week, they have one common goal; to give back to their community.

Ever have a goal you really wanted to accomplish, but life events just seem to get in the way? That’s what kept Dave Raymon from committing to the Grand Rapids Fire Academy.

“I was working for an engineering company, full-time. Never had time to do anything like this,” said Raymon. “I went to Michigan State, got my bachelors and never really had time to go through an academy like this. Then the company I was working for went under and I just found the time.”

Raymon knew it was going to be a lot of hard work. He was doing more hands on training than in any other fire academy in Michigan.

“I always thought it was something I was capable of doing,” said Raymon. “So, if I was capable of doing it and I could help people, it’s probably something I should look into doing.”

Instructors give students as much on the job experience as they can. But recruits should certainly expect to spend time in the classroom.

“It’s definitely been labor intensive from that aspect. Definitely two hours of homework every night,” added Raymon.

But for these students, who are learning on their own dime, want to be here. Graduates from the academy will leave with two levels of certification, and about 150 more training hours than what the state of Michigan requires.

The hard work they put in is shown after the academy ends. While instructors don’t always hear back from graduates, it’s estimated close to 90 percent get part-time jobs with area fire departments. They’re hired on full-time as positions open up.

Raymon will finish the academy just in time for graduate school this fall. He’ll have priceless skills that will allow him to give back to his community.

“It’s hard work so you got to like hard work if you’re going to do it.”

Instructors are hoping to set up an academy that runs during weekends and weeknights in order to accommodate people who cannot make it during the day. For more information on the cost and how to enroll, click here.

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