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Firefighter Graduation Brings Community Together
CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- The graduation of a new fire recruit class in Cincinnati is a celebration for families and friends.
But Friday's graduation may bring even more reasons to celebrate. The recruits start work this weekend. And on Monday, Mayor John Cranley is set to announce a plan that will reduce and possibly eliminate fire department "brownouts." That's when a fire company sits idle to save money.
Five of the Cincinnati Fire Department's 40 fire companies are browned out every day because they don't have the staff for them without paying overtime. It's a cost-saving matter and a sensitive public safety issue that may soon come to an end.
The city received two federal grants that cover 100% of the costs of last March's recruit class and the one that graduated Friday for two years. We'll know more about the brownouts on Sunday.
What we do know now is that 41 men and women launched new careers as firefighters and it's an honest-to-goodness family affair.
There are some political overtones and budget issues linked to Friday morning's event at the Art Museum. But what this really boils down to is a celebration. These 41 men and women of Cincinnati Fire's 112th recruit class were chosen from more than 5,000 applicants. They've completed six months training. They have their assignments. Friday, they got their badges.
10 of the 41 new firefighters have family who serve or have served on Cincinnati's Fire Department. The auditorium was filled with brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters who took the stage to pin on the badges. Ryan Cranfill had no idea his father Larry had come to town for the ceremony.
"It means a lot. He's one of the main reasons I moved up here from North Carolina. To have him here today is kind of overwhelming," Ryan Cranfill said.
His father said, "It was something that I cherish too, and for him to accomplish one of his dreams, I had to be here for that."
That sentiment was repeated 41 times Friday. Nowhere was it felt deeper than in the hearts of the Griffith family. Nate and Nate II have 21 years and 14 years, respectively, with Cincinnati Fire. When we talked with Nate III, the second's younger brother, he had about 30 minutes of service but a lifetime of preparation.
"Growing up, Dad instilled in both of us helping people. Taking care of one another. And I figured this is one way I can give back," Nate the III said.
Nate the II said, "Everybody has a purpose in their life. I think one of the purposes God put on our lives was to help people in their greatest time of need."
"I think they got used to me coming home and telling stories and serving the public. I think that instills something in your kids. I think they long to do it after awhile," Nate told us.
This weekend, the longing is over. Some of the recruit class will report on duty Sunday at 7a.m. The rest will report Monday at 7, many of them just carrying on the family business.
Police and fire graduations are always fun to cover but this one was memorable. The details of the brownout plan will be revealed this weekend. Mayor Cranley is waiting for a detailed plan from the Fire Chief that he will get Sunday afternoon and discuss with council members on a conference call. The mayor is holding a news conference Monday morning to talk more about reducing the brownouts.
The recruit class and the 38 recruits who graduated last March are funded by what's called a federal S.A.F.E.R. grant. It stands for, "Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response." The 13.2 million dollar grant will cover training and salary costs for two years.