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PR- 120-06
April 19, 2006


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today presided over a graduation ceremony for 139 Probationary Firefighters. The new Firefighters, or "Probies," graduated after completing the rigorous 12-week training program at the FDNY Training Academy located on Randall's Island. Several hundred friends and family members joined the Mayor and Commissioner to congratulate this first class of 2006 at the ceremony held at Brooklyn College.

"It's an honor to welcome the first class of 2006 to the greatest fire department in the world," said Mayor Bloomberg. "You've answered the call to serve our City and today, you join the ranks of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day. You represent the best of New York City and that's why I'm committed to providing you with the tools and training you need to continue to drive fire deaths down and protect the lives and property of New Yorkers. I congratulate today's graduates and wish you all the best as you move on to your next assignments in firehouses throughout the city."

"Today, you join 141 years of tradition, honor, and duty," said Commissioner Scoppetta. "You have all now completed the most challenging Fire Academy in the nation. It is an extraordinarily proud day for you, your families, and the Department. The New York City Fire Department has a tremendous history built upon the service and sacrifice of thousands of New York City's Bravest. That legacy is now your responsibility."

Among today's graduates are four firefighters who lost family members in the line-of-duty. Three graduates lost family members on September 11th including, Probationary Firefighter James Dowdell, the son of Lt. Kevin Dowdell of Rescue 4, Probationary Firefighter Glenn Perry, the son of Lt. Glenn Perry of Ladder 34, and Probationary Firefighter Thomas Riches, the brother of Firefighter James Riches of Engine 4. The class also includes Probationary Firefighter Daniel Bellew, the nephew of Lt. John Bellew of Ladder 27 who was killed in a Bronx fire on January 23, 2005.

Today's class also featured 19 firefighters who previously served in the military. Eight of them are combat veterans. One of them, Probationary Firefighter Kevin Lynch was granted special leave to finish the Academy and will return to military service on May 21, 2006.

While in training at the Fire Academy, the Probationary Firefighters learned firefighting techniques such as basic engine and truck operations, fire suppression and containment, hazardous materials training, and terrorism awareness. The Probationary Firefighters will now be assigned to firehouses throughout the five boroughs, where they will gain field experience under the guidance of senior firefighters and fire officers.

This class was the first to begin training at the Fire Academy since the critical injury to Firefighter Matthew Long, who was struck by a bus on December 22, 2005 while riding his bicycle to work on Randall's Island. In response, all 139 Probationary Firefighters donated blood in Firefighter Long's honor and raised $500 to purchase equipment for the Fitness Unit, where he assigned as a Fitness Instructor.

Probationary Firefighter Casey E. Skudin earned the honor of today's class Valedictorian and Probationary Firefighter Jonathan A. Kappel was the class Salutatorian. The Physical Fitness Award was given to Probationary Firefighter Dmitriy Chinov.


Stu Loeser / Virginia Lam   (212) 788-2958

Francis X. Gribbon   (Fire Department)
(718) 999-2056

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