Twelve aspiring firefighters have taken the first step toward fulfilling their dream of joining the ranks of first responders by graduating from the Yavapai College Fire Academy.

The 12 men celebrated the achievement with loved ones, their instructors and area fire agency personnel Dec. 16 at the Central Arizona Regional Training Academy in Prescott Valley, where they spent much of the last 16 weeks mastering the physical, intellectual and mental demands of the fire service.

Following are the newest YC Fire Academy graduates:

  • Blake Armstrong
  • Thomas Barnes
  • Matthew Dalcerro
  • Jacob Loaiza
  • Tristan Newman
  • Daniel Smith
  • Trevis Baier
  • Lukas Becker
  • Matthew Gonzalez
  • Noah Medrano
  • Dylan Schoch
  • Cade Thein

In congratulatory remarks to the graduates, Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority Battalion Chief Cougan Carothers said firefighters can expect to touch hundreds of thousands of lives during their careers. “We as individuals working together for something bigger than ourselves can change the world one person at a time.”

Lukas Becker, who spoke on behalf of his fellow academy graduates, said the academy changed his and his colleagues’ lives profoundly, ultimately returning “better versions of ourselves” to our families and the community.

“In the last sixteen weeks the instructors and staff of this academy have washed my brain of apathy and replaced it with empathy; removed laziness and replaced it with work ethic; and replaced self-centeredness with self-sacrifice,” Becker said. He pledged to his audience that the “12 strong” fall 2021 graduating class would be accountable for the values and skills the academy bestowed on them. “We are all personally responsible for living the lessons we learned here and applying them daily,” he said.

Lead instructors for the latest cohort of YC Fire Academy graduates were Matt Fischer, Mike Edgerton, Cory Fischer, Tim Tillich and Jim Bushman.