Philadelphia Fire Academy grads advance to front lines of fight against COVID-19

Philadelphia Fire Academy's 197th class had a socially distant graduation ceremony.
Photo credit Courtesy of the Philadelphia Fire Department

There was little fanfare, but there were masks and gloves.

The moment comes after a nine-month academic, practical and physical training program.

"I know it was a rigorous process, during a pandemic no less," Mayor Jim Kenney said at the ceremony. "The events of this year have only amplified how essential our first responders truly are."

Kenney's father was a firefighter.

CONGRATS TO CLASS 197! These 64 new firefighter/EMTs graduated today in an unusual ceremony at @Philly_FA. They will serve with the PFD, @ChesterCityFire and @UpperDarbyFire. Read more ➡️

— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) July 13, 2020

In addition to fighting fires, the Academy's 197th class will soon be on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

Fire Academy Deputy Chief Girten Allerton said the grads are now an instant sign of something good in their communities.

"In these extraordinary times, and in extraordinary circumstances, you have stepped forward," he told the graduates.

This class is the first to take the department's new fire dynamics course, a class that's now in the cadet curriculum.

The newly minted first responders will now join fire departments in Philadelphia, Upper Darby,