13 new firefighters join ranks at Miami Fire Rescue

MIAMI – More than a dozen of Miami’s latest fire recruits officially joined the ranks Friday following a firefighter graduation and demonstration event at the city’s training facility in Coconut Grove.

After starting with more than 25 recruits last August, that number was whittled down to just 13.

The final graduating class, or “Lucky 13,” as they named themselves, got their official fire department pins and plaques before joining their stations as soon as next week.

“They’ll graduate today, they’ll have the weekend and then it’s off to work,” Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said.

Those graduates also put on a demonstration of sorts, showing off their newly-acquired skills, following six months of intense training.

“The training is grueling, especially in South Florida with the heat and humidity that we deal with,” Zahralban said. “When they go through training, they’ll learn everything from rope rescue, to basic pumping, to how to pull hose lines, put fire out.”

Juangel Hernandez is one of those graduates.

“It’s nerve wracking, it’s a lot of years to get here, a lot of work to get here along the way,” Hernandez said. “But you can’t do it alone and my mother is somebody that I’ve leaned on for support in my life.”

His mother knows a thing or two about rushing into danger. Officer Yusimi Rodriguez is a 15-year veteran of the Miami Police Department.

“He’s always wanted to be a firefighter when he was young, so it’s very fulfilling to see him grow and actually accomplishing his goal,” she said.

Officials say the city already gathering its class of fire recruits, with the next one likely to graduate in 2024.

About the Author:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.