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Four Thomasville Fire Rescue recruits graduated from the Georgia Fire Academy in Forsyth Georgia on Thursday, March 2, 2017. TFR firefighter recruits and recent Academy graduates are Richard Britt, Daniel Oliva, Hailee Roberts, and Nathaniel Thomas. Additionally, Thomas and Roberts were recognized with special awards during the evening’s ceremonies that honored the 18 graduates from across the state of Georgia.

Thomasville Fire Chief Chris Bowman was featured as the keynote speaker for the more than 200 guests in attendance. During his comments, he urged the new graduates to become bravely prepared for their career. “I shared with the class that being brave does not mean the absence of fear; it means having courage in the face of danger to make sound decisions. Being prepared means you never stop training, learning and becoming more knowledgeable of the fire service.” Bowman said that he was honored to be the keynote speaker for the ceremonies, adding, “I hoped to share with the graduates the importance of creating a vision for their career and how to adequately prepare for what lies ahead. It was particularly rewarding to share these thoughts with the four newest members of Thomasville Fire Rescue.”

During the ceremonies, Thomas was recognized with the Honor Graduate Award, which is presented to the individual who has demonstrated the top overall academic achievement. “We are very proud that Nathaniel was recognized as the Honor Graduate from his graduating class,” said Bowman. “His determination, drive, and work ethic were evident to his instructors throughout his time at the Georgia Fire Academy, and those traits will serve him well as he begins his fire career.”

The Pinnacle Award, which is given to the individual who has demonstrated the true meaning of what it is to be a firefighter, was presented to Roberts. “Earning this award is quite prestigious, as it shows that she has demonstrated self-sacrifice and an unending need to assist her fellow firefighters,” said Bowman. “This exemplifies the respect and admiration Hailee earned from Fire Academy Chief Officers and instructors, who selected her as the recipient for her graduating class.”

Bowman said that all four of TFR’s new recruits showed an impressive work ethic throughout the eight-week training program. “Completing this training program is an accomplishment in and of itself. It truly defines one’s ability as they enter into this profession, which will require an honorable character and service to their community and their fellow firefighters,” said Bowman. Assistant Chief Mark Sealy and Chief of Training Craig Dukes also attended the graduation ceremonies.

The Basic Firefighter Training program, offered through the Georgia Fire Academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, is the top firefighter training program in the state of Georgia. Graduates who complete the 345-hour program, which includes both classroom-based lectures and practical skills building sessions, earn state certification as a firefighter. Once completed, TFR recruits then enter a two-week, 80- hour internal training program. Once completed, they will earn NPQ Firefighter II certification through by the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.