April 18, 2018
On Wednesday, April 18, Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro presided over the graduation ceremony for 311 probationary Firefighters at Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, NY.
“Over the last several months, you have trained to run into burning buildings to save lives, you have learned the skills needed to perform difficult rescues and now you will be tasked with going towards those chaotic scenes because the people of our city need your help,” said Fire Commissioner Nigro. “Every Firefighter in our ranks has been where you are now.”
People of color comprise 34% of the 311 graduating probationary Firefighters – 18.6% identify as Hispanic, 10.3% as African-American, and 4.8% as Asian-American/Pacific Islander. There are five women in the class, bringing the total number of female Firefighters to 72 – the highest total in FDNY history.
“Every new class of probationary Firefighters is a tremendous benefit to the entire Department, you are a symbol that the FDNY is always moving forward and working to improve how we protect our city,” said Chief of Department James E. Leonard. “Your careers are only just beginning and I can tell you it is an incredible journey.”
Several members of this graduating class were inspired by family to join the Department.
"My mother has always inspired me, it means a lot to me to follow in her footsteps, throughout my time spent training at the Fire Academy; it was helpful to talk to her and get her advice, and to hear about her 20 years of experience on the job,” said probationary Firefighter Matthew Fiorito, who is following in his mother’s footsteps, retired Captain Marianne Monahan.
Probationary Firefighter Terence Pfeifer is also following the career path of his father, Firefighter Ray Pfeifer, a 28-year veteran of the Department who passed away in 2017 following a brave battle with cancer caused by his time spent working in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. Firefighter Ray Pfeifer fought tirelessly for all first responders battling World Trade Center illness, and was awarded the key to New York City for his crucial role in the fight to get the Zadroga Act passed by Congress.
"It’s an absolute honor to be a part of the greatest Fire Department in the world; the FDNY meant everything to my father,” said probationary Firefighter Pfeifer. “He showed me, when I was growing up, how special this job really is. I would never want to do anything else in the world besides this job.”
There are also 14 veterans, representing all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Probationary Firefighter and National Guard member Jennifer Aracena is one of the 14 Veterans “As a squad leader during probationary Firefighter training, I have been responsible for everyone in my squad,” said probationary Firefighter Aracena. “I’m an active member of the US Army National Guard, and my time spent in the military helped to prepare me to be a leader in the Fire Academy, as well, I’m so proud to be a part of the Department.”
For photos of the graduation ceremony, click here.