April 24, 2024

Virginia Beach Fire Department Graduates 33 Firefighters from Academies 14 and 15

It’s the first time the department held multiple academies concurrently.

Virginia Beach Fire Academies 14 and 15 Graduates

Fire Academies 14 and 15 began with 24 and 18 recruits respectively in late September 2023. After seven months of training that tested their physical and mental strength, 33 graduates walked across the stage on April 23 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

This was the first time the department held three concurrent academies at the Harry E. Diezel Fire Training Center. In addition to the regular academies — 14 and 15— they also held a “mini academy” (shorter than the full six-month recruit academy) for certified firefighters coming from other Hampton Roads fire departments. Eight firefighters from the mini academy, VBFA 13, graduated in October 2023.

During the ceremony, Battalion Chief Michael Carter thanked training center instructors, staff members, and firefighters that worked behind the scenes and helped in the success of the concurrent academies.

He emphasized to the novice firefighters that serving the public was an important part of the job.

“Remember why you signed up to serve the public and the passion that you have right now and take that to the station and throughout your career,” Carter said.

“As you receive your assignments and go into the field, start to think about how you can make a difference on your engine, at your station, on your shift, with the department, and your community. You’re the future and your attitude, dedication and motivation, and passion will drive our department into the future.”

The Convention Center ballroom was packed with family and friends. Fire Chief Kenneth Pravetz thanked them and recognized the sacrifices they made during academy training.

“I know it’s been a big burden. They come home with bruises and cuts and bumps, sore and cranky, but it’s all for a good purpose,” Pravetz said.

“It makes them stronger; it makes them more resilient, and it makes us provide service to the citizens more effectively. Thank you for supporting these firefighters as they walk across the stage. Thank you for supporting them getting here.”

Class Presidents Daniel Suruga (VBFA 14) and Amanda Kelly (VBFA 15) gave remarks during the ceremony, with Kelly describing going through the academy as “the evolution of oneself.” Suruga urged his fellow firefighters to “stay humble, stay hungry for knowledge and always strive for excellence in everything you do.”

Award Presentations

Valedictorian (Classes 14 & 15)

  • Samantha Fuller (VBFA 15)

Jason Ray Workman Award (in memory of Workman who was a Navy SEAL stationed in Virginia Beach)

  • Joshua Vales (VBFA 14)
  • Benjamin James (VBFA 15)

Christopher J. Whelan Award (in memory of former Norfolk Firefighter Whelan who passed away in February 2000)

  • Daniel Suruga (VBFA 14)
  • Trevor Sims (VBFA 15)

If you are interested in learning more about the Virginia Beach Fire Department and what the day in the life of a firefighter is like, visit fire.virginiabeach.gov/careers. Email hireVBFD@vbgov.com if you have any questions regarding the hiring process or to be added to the interest list for next year's hiring process.

Contact Information

Virginia Beach Fire Administration

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