St. Paul Fire Department welcomes 15 new firefighters

[anvplayer video=”5083576″ station=”998122″]

More than a dozen new firefighters have officially joined the St. Paul’s Fire Department.

The virtual ceremony took place Friday afternoon at the Wellstone Center.

It’s a day that some of the graduates have waited for since they were little.

"I remember being 4 years old and wanting to pursue being a firefighter," said Austin Johnson, a fire academy graduate.

Together 15 men and women make up the newest St. Paul firefighters, including Sergio Sahlstrom, a former a bodybuilder and personal trainer.

"In personal training, it’s all about helping somebody achieve their goals, and throughout my career I always felt there was something bigger I could do to help others," Sahlstrom said.

Even though it might not sound like it, Sahlstrom thinks the two careers have similarities.

"You have to be able to talk to people and I think that’s definitely going to attribute to my work as a firefighter," Sahlstrom said.

Johnson is the son of a St. Paul firefighter.

"We definitely will see each other at work," Johnson said. "I just remember as a kid spending Thanksgivings at the stations when he has to work or Christmas Eves even and just falling in love with it."

Cidney Ellis was one of the department’s first fire medic cadets.

"It’s actually something I’ve always wanted to do as a kid, it just took me a long time to get here," Ellis said.

During Friday’s virtual ceremony, Chief Butch Inks talked about the hiring challenges brought on by the pandemic and civil unrest. But he commended these men and women for staying committed and answering the call after 14 weeks of vigorous training.

"In the midst of everything going on in the world, this group said yes to this job," Inks said.

Now the real work begins, and this group is ready to join the family that makes up the St. Paul Fire Department.

"I’m excited to grow our family and give back to the people of St. Paul," Ellis said.