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County Fire Academy Trains 60 New Volunteers, Nine New Career Firefighters

New career firefighters in their gear. Kneeling from right to left: Heriberto Virella, William Simons, Thomas Leonard and Cea Fong. Back Row: Christopher Duffelmeyer, Christopher Rimm, Michael Mackenzie, John Giordano Jr. and , Hassan Washington. Photo Credit: Westchester County
Nine new firefighting graduates. Front row, right to left: Heriberto Virella, William Simons, John Giordano Jr. and Cea Fong; second row, Christopher Rimm, Thomas Leonard and Michael Mackenzie; Top row: Christopher Duffelmeyer and Hassan Washington. Photo Credit: Westchester County
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino congratulates 60 new volunteer firefighters Thursday evening during their graduation in Valhalla. About 250 family members and friends attended the ceremony at the Department of Emergency Services. Photo Credit: Westchester County

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Nine fire recruits graduated Friday from the Westchester County Career Chiefs Fire Academy in Valhalla.

The new professional firefighters were awarded their certificates during a graduation ceremony held at the Robert Schnibbe Jr. Support Services Building at the Department of Emergency Services.

County Executive Rob Astorino and Emergency Services Commissioner John M. Cullen welcomed the new firefighter graduates.

“It’s never easy to be a recruit in the Fire Academy but a class of nine is much smaller than usual.  Talk about having nowhere to hide," Astorino said. "By comparison, the last graduating class had 25 members. So I am guessing that the nine of you received quite a lot of ‘personal’ attention from your instructors."

Astorino's comments drew nods and knowing laughter from the graduates and family members in the audience. The county executive thanked emergency services staff and the instructors from numerous fire departments who trained the new firefighters during the 18-week Fire Academy program.

“Our county and its fire departments share a common commitment to provide the best training possible for members of the fire service,” Astorino said. “These new firefighters have indeed received the finest training there is from instructors of extraordinary talent, skill and experience.”

The career firefighting graduates and their departments are: Christopher Duffelmeyer, Hartsdale Fire Department; Thomas  Leonard, Michael Mackenzie and Christopher Rimm, Peekskill Fire Department; Cea Fong, John Giordano Jr. and Heriberto Virella, Port Chester Fire Department; and William Simons and Hassan Washington, White Plains Fire Department.

On Thursday evening during graduation ceremonies at the same county facility, Astorino congratulated 60 volunteer firefighter recruits who completed training.

The volunteer firefighters are going to work for 23 departments in Westchester.

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