16 western Massachusetts recruits graduate from state’s fire academy

The graduates will be working in fire departments in seven western Massachusetts communities

SPRINGFIELD (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts will now be protected by 16 new firefighters.

Graduating class SO6 was honored at The Department of Fire Services’ Springfield Campus on Thursday for their completion of The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy.

The graduates completed a ten week program of classroom instruction, physical fitness training and live firefighting practice.

The graduates will be working in fire departments in seven western Massachusetts communities.

One new Chicopee firefighter told 22News it was one of the hardest but most rewarding 10 weeks of his life.

“I went to boot camp at the Coast Guard and this was harder than boot camp,” Christopher Ferrari said.”They gave us different scenarios, put us to the test, made us put out the fires, and let us know what the fire service is all about.”

Long serving firefighters and fire chiefs welcomed these recruits into a large family of fire service.

They’re reminded of the risk as Montgomery Fire Chief Stephen Frye collapsed and died while putting out a fire Tuesday night.

Fire Academy Director, Dave Evans told 22News that firefighters across the state will support Frye’s family, from the recruits to the highest rank.

“When someone gives the ultimate, everybody in the fire service and public safety feels it,” Evans said. “So they will not be alone as the Marshall and Chaplin said, everybody male, female, young and old, veterans or retired, they’ll be there for the family and that department.”

“You work with your brothers and sisters through everything,” Agawam Firefighter Jeffery Oakes said. “Even outside of the department you’re going to work with them through it all.”