Wilmington Fire Department celebrates largest graduating class in decades


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It was a night full of celebration for the Wilmington Fire Department as they gained nearly two dozen new firefighters Thursday. This ceremony made it the department’s largest graduation class in nearly 20 years.

The new generation of men and women serving our community are now ready to gear up.

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“Happy. You know, proud. Privileged. So there’s tons of emotions kinda going through right now,”┬áProbationary Firefighter, Joseph Callahan said.

The Wilmington Fire Department now has 22 new firefighters after completing 6 months of intense training.

“Extremely proud to be finished and graduated,” Callahan said. “You know, join a group of men and women that have given so much and decided to give back to their communities for the rest of their lives. And it’s a privilege to be a part of this fire department. And it’s going to be a privilege to go to work every single day.”

During the ceremony several awards were handed out including the Garrett Loomis award.

“I could hug him right now if I could,” Loomis’ mother, Amy Loomis said emotionally.

It is an award dedicated to the former Wilmington firefighter who died battling a fire in his hometown in New York back in 2010.

“It’s a high honor that the guys here are still thinking of him and they wanted to make this award for Garrett,” Loomis said. “It makes me feel proud but also thankful that he had the opportunity to come here.”

Callahan received the prestigious award from Loomis’ parents. He did not know Loomis personally, but he has heard about the person and fireman Loomis was.

“Just someone that would set the right example,” Callahan said. “That would have the best attitude. Someone you could always go to and count on and have a positive thing to say. Always smiling.”

Loomis left behind character and a major legacy Callahan hopes to carry on.

“So he’s just like that kind of guy and to be voted one by my peers and to be voted on by instructors that’s a true honor,” Callahan said.

This was the first ever Garrett Loomis award, but the Wilmington Fire Department plans to present it for years to come.

Other awards presented during the ceremony included Valedictorian, Most Improved, and Leadership.