FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Fire Academy graduated 32 volunteers from the Firefighter I program at a ceremony held August 3.

Members of Class No. 87 attended weekend classes at the Monmouth County Fire Academy in Howell and completed 164 hours of course work over 24 sessions. They received training in rescue, fire extinguishment, hazardous materials response, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, electrical safety, and care of hoses, ladders and other equipment. 

“Firefighting is more than public service or volunteerism – it is a calling, a way of life,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, in his remarks to the graduates. “You cannot put a price on this calling. It is your reputation, your integrity, your life. Every day, from this day forward, you are a firefighter.”

“You have stepped forward to serve others, and you will have rewards. Curley continued. “You will save lives. You will have people come up to you and thank you for saving their lives.”

The Ronald Fitzpatrick Award, named for a former instructor at the Fire Academy who died in the line of duty in 2003, was won by Bora Aykin of Keyport Hook & Ladder in recognition of his high test scores, perfect attendance and excellence in hands-on evolutions.

“These firefighter graduates are to be commended for their dedication and willingness to serve,” said William Itinger, chief training officer. “This class had some tough days and some good days. They are ready to provide a great service to their communities as they carry out their important duties.”

Each firefighter was awarded a certificate of course completion by former Freeholder Curley, Chief Itinger and county Fire Marshal Henry Stryker III.

Each year thousands of local firefighters receive training at the county Fire Academy. Applications are still available for the remaining slots in the fall Firefighter I class at the county Fire Academy.  Applications are due Aug. 13 at the Monmouth County Fire Academy administration office, 1027 Route 33 East, Freehold. Classes will begin in September.