COLUMBUS, Ohio — Staffing has been a concern of the Columbus Division of Fire for months as the division numbers remained stagnant while the city grew.
For the first time in the division's history, the city had not one, but two classes graduate on Friday. In total, nearly 70 firefighters will join the ranks
This first-ever accelerated class went from cadets to firefighters on Friday. Those graduating already had their credentials but wanted to join Columbus Fire.
“Feels amazing, for us to be the first recruit graduation - to graduate two classes and be part of the accelerated class - that's a dream come true,” said graduate Jaylin Carter.
This was just one of two classes that hosted a graduation.
“It will help, but we have to make these types of investments and additional classes for both police and fire in the years to come,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.
According to the Columbus Fire Union, the department has only added 37 positions since 2000, even though the population of Columbus has jumped more than 200,000. With these two graduations, there will be more Columbus firefighters on the streets than ever before.
“Because of these two, we had to do this because attrition has been a little accelerated in the past few years. This really helps make up that ground,” said Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Geitter.
Those graduating say they are proud to be a part of history but want to do the job for the same reason as every other firefighter.
“Just helping people,” Carter said.
The graduates won't have much time to celebrate, some of them have their first shift on Sunday.