One of the youngest Yavapai College Fire Academy classes in memory celebrated successful completion of an intense 16 weeks of training the same way they started the life-changing journey – looking forward to a career in the fire service.

The 17 graduates, the youngest teen-aged high school students and the oldest 24, celebrated their achievements with loved ones and their extended firefighter family Dec. 10 at the Central Arizona Regional Training Academy (CARTA) in Prescott Valley. Individually and as a team, they shared the spotlight, recounting stories of their rigorous training and listening to their instructors and area fire officials impart valuable advice.

“In this career, you’re going to be witness to some of the most tremendous human suffering that you can ever imagine, but together as a group, you’re also going to be witness to some of the greatest triumphs…” Prescott Fire Chief Holger Durre told the graduates in his keynote address. Both experiences require resilience, selflessness, and taking care of family, Durre said. “The fire service is a family, there’s no doubt about that, but believe me the most important family is the one you have at home. That’s what is going to carry you through those hard times.”

Durre also urged the graduates to cultivate strong personas outside the fire service. “Never make being a firefighter your most important identity. Make your identity being a good human being, a good partner, a good friend. That is one thing you’ll always have with you… Always, always remember who you are and what’s important to you in your heart.”

Speaking for his class, fire academy graduate Emilio Estrada expressed gratitude to academy instructors, to family and friends for their encouragement and support and to his classmates for the teamwork and bonding that helped them all overcome challenges -- even fear -- to succeed. “This class was unlike any other class I’ve ever been a part of. We all came to this class as individuals, but now we all leave as one – a family,” Estrada said, addressing his classmates directly. “I’m very proud of how far along you’ve come this semester. “This is just the start of our journey. We have a very long and exciting career ahead of us. I wish you all the best and I wouldn’t have wanted to attend this academy with anyone else but you.”

For information about the YC Fire Science Program, visit Or, email Fire Science Program Director, Robert Borker, Call 928-717-7931.

Following are the fall 2022 YC Fire Academy graduates:

  • Emma Auten
  • Jacob Baziuk
  • Gabriel Castaneda
  • Carter Crawford
  • Emilio Estrada
  • Aden Hamman
  • Bailey Richey
  • Kade Roberts
  • Carlton Timms
  • Jacob Baker
  • Antoine Bouimer
  • Steward Cox
  • Matt Dollins
  • Matthew Gordon
  • Nicole Raiss
  • Cody Roberts
  • Fernando Soto