Mayor Lightfoot, CFD hold graduation ceremony for 88 new first responders amid COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II congratulated 88 new firefighter EMTs who graduated Tuesday morning as Chicago continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday's class of graduates will begin their assignments this week, further building on the more than 4,900 firefighters and paramedics in Chicago that are working every day to protect residents.

The graduation ceremony will recognize newly recruited firefighters who started classes in November of 2019.

"The men and women of the Chicago Fire Department have been on the front lines of a crisis that is entirely without precedent in our city. And yet, it's moments like these that speak to how much we need each of them in our lives," said Mayor Lightfoot. "While we continue to encourage everyone to stay home during these difficult times, these candidates graduating today will be out there every day to protect us and ensure our fellow residents remain safe."

"These men and women have answered the call to join the ranks of our beloved Department, to make sure we maintain the numbers needed to respond to any emergency in any neighborhood, be it manmade, natural or even this medical pandemic," said Commissioner Ford. "I would like to also thank their families for giving these candidates the support needed to make it into and through our training academy to now serve as the newest Chicago Firefighters."

The graduating class includes 16 military veterans, 14 former Chicago Police Officers and 26 former graduates of Chicago Public Schools. The 88 new firefighters are 43% minority, and seven are women.

All candidates graduating completed a six-month training course at the Robert Quinn Fire Academy that includes courses for certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and Illinois Firefighter or Fire Paramedic.

Earlier this spring, the Fire Department worked with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to break down training courses into smaller groups to ensure candidates practiced social distancing while still receiving the necessary training.
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