Lynchburg, VA - It's an exciting day for the Lynchburg Fire Department. Monday, 24 recruits began the 18 week-long training academy.
This class is the largest group added to the department since its founding in 1883. With the help of a federal grant, they were able to add nine more positions, bringing the department to full capacity.
This could be the last time you see these faces in common clothes. The next time they may be at your rescue.
"They're all bright eyed and bushy tailed, now," said Matt Millner, EMS training officer.
They're answering the call to serve with tough shoes to fill, but Eric Smith is ready. He's been waiting on this moment for a long, long time.
"I can remember back when I was just four or five years old my dad just showing me all the trucks," said Smith.
His dad, Mike Smith served in the department for 34 years. He just retired last year.
"He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was going to be a firefighter and he wanted to help people, and I always wanted to help people in the same way," said Smith.
Before getting this full time job, Smith volunteered as an EMT for the Goode Rescue Squad. The fire department is thankful to be bringing them all on board.
"We are very short staffed every day, so these 24 new faces coming to the field are a great asset to the department and more importantly to the citizens of the City of Lynchburg," said Millner.
"This is a big day for LFD," said Robert Lipscomb, battalion chief of training.
And a big day in Eric Smith's world, who's getting to serve his community just like his dad did.
"I've decided I would be able to do that best if I followed in his footsteps and became a firefighter, and I just enjoy helping people so much," said Smith.
The grant funds nine positions for only two years. It extends a third year for those with a military background. When the grant runs out, the city plans to absorb those employees back into the system.