Updated: 07/11/2014 10:19 PM
Created: 07/11/2014 8:20 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell
There are new firefighters to take on fires in Minneapolis. They began as a group of 2,800 and were whittled down to just 19.
So far this year, 11 Minneapolis firefighters have retired. Last year, 18 left the department.
The newest graduates are a much-needed part of the city being prepared for everything from hazardous material accidents, to water rescues and of course fires.
"This is a huge deal," said J.R. Klepp, Deputy Chief of Training with the Minneapolis Fire Department.
"My new official title as of today is a Minneapolis firefighter," said Jeremiah Wickenhauser who graduated on Friday.
The new firefighters all finished what they started as one class.
"You all kind of feed off of each other," said Kenneth Glenn who graduated on Friday.
“They all stuck together," Klepp said.
"We knew that we had to band together, and stay together, and that's exactly what we did," Glenn said.
Cadets sticking together all the way through graduation might be a first for the Minneapolis Fire Department.
"No one remembers a class starting with 19 and finishing with the same 19," Klepp said.
Eighteen of the 19 new firefighters are veterans.
"I don't know that if none of us were veterans, they would have gotten that kind of result," said Bill Haws, who graduated on Friday.
"You all kind of feed off of each other. You all come from the para-military background, so you know how it goes," Glenn said.
"We had a common background, and because of that, we were able to get everybody through," Wickenhauser said.
If you think the firefighter training they go through is any easier than their military training, well, these brand new Minneapolis firefighters will tell you that's not the case.
"Oh the training in the military isn’t a cup of tea, [but it's] a cup of nothing compared to this training," Glenn said.
"No, that was more of a piece of cake than this was," Haws said when talking about his military training compared to firefighter training.
Going from serving their country to serving their community, for them, is a perfect transition.
"You're only in their lives for a couple of minutes, but you get to touch their lives," Glenn said.
Veterans do receive some preferences when they apply to be firefighters, such as extra points on physical and written exams. Once veterans apply to be firefighters, they are granted additional points on physical and written exams. However, they lose those preferences once they become cadets.