MFD graduates 37 new firefighters ready to serve amid challenging environment

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wednesday night the Milwaukee Fire Department welcomed 37 new recruits into the ranks at a graduation ceremony attended by hundreds of family and friends.

The graduates range in age from 20-48. Some of them are the first in their families to serve in the fire department, others are the latest to continue a legacy of service.

The ceremony was celebratory, but Fire Chief Aaron Lipski told the group the pressure is about to be dialed up. "It's going to be filthy; it's going to be exhausting; it's going to be dangerous."

But worth it, according to Chief Lipski.

The 37 new graduates trained for a grueling 16 weeks, preparing physically and mentally to respond to fires, medical emergencies, and violent crimes.

Chief Lipski said, "Your willingness or your unwillingness will cause lives to change."

Department leaders did not sugarcoat the challenging environment, both in the day-to-day and in the larger sense.

Local 215 President Eric Daun said, "This career is not easy, it is grueling."

Chief Lipski said, "This is about the survival of a city, what happens in the next couple years here."

But they reminded the class they're not alone.

Deputy Chief Travis Jones told the audience, "I am most grateful for this group of men and women who have chosen the best career in the world."

And the newly-badged firefighters said they know it.

New firefighter Corey Miller told the crowd, "Over the past few months, we've become family. All from different backgrounds, different upbringings. Nobody will care when we go out about your age, your race, or your background. They see our uniforms and they expect the best."

The fire department's current budget challenges were mentioned several times throughout the ceremony. Chief Lipski said his department will not be used in political battles; they will just keep doing their jobs.

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