It takes an extended family of fire service employees to train future first responders at Yavapai College, but it takes grit, determination, teamwork and sacrifice for individual cadets to attain “firefighter” status at the end of a grueling semester of training.

Fourteen men and women did just that, graduating from the Yavapai College Fire Academy this month in preparation for careers as hero first responders with emergency-service agencies in area communities.

Speaking on behalf of his classmates, fire academy graduate Paul Kane said he wouldn’t be surprised if the spring 2023 graduating class stays unemployed for long. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that most of us have a very good shot at getting a job in the near future, “ he said, praising his fellow graduates’ ability to bond as a team and motivate each other through the physical and mental grind of a “very tough” 16 weeks.

“Honestly, this is one of the best teams I’ve ever had the privilege of working with,” Kane said. “These are the people I want to trust my life with.”

Firefighter jobs are up for grabs right now locally, Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority (CAFMA) Chief Scott Freitag told the fire academy graduates in his keynote address. He said his agency soon will begin recruiting for 12 firefighter and other area agencies will be close behind. He urged the graduates to get ready and once hired by CAFMA or another agency to “live their interview” – be the firefighter you represent to the people who hire you -- and “live the values” of your future employer.

YC Fire Science Director Robert Borker expressed pride in the graduates and thanked the interagency team of academy instructors, saying YC is grateful for the assistance and support it receives to ensure new generations can ably fill in the ranks. “We don’t do this alone. We can’t do this alone,” Borker said.

Following is the Yavapai College Fire Academy Spring 2023 graduating class:

  • Aaron Amaya
  • Britteny Berry
  • Kyle Conley
  • Jonah Denlinger
  • Boden Gosney
  • Kaouther M’Kadmi
  • Samuel Twardecki
  • Nickolas Balog
  • Jeff Bowers
  • Caley Cozens
  • Michael Garcia
  • Paul Kane
  • Ashleigh Maestas
  • Bella Vogel