FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Mayor Tom Henry and Fire Chief Eric Lahey welcomed the Fort Wayne Fire Department’s (FWFD) 94th recruiting class Monday morning at the Public Safety Academy.

Fire Chief Eric Lahey with the FWFD said what’s special about this recruiting class is that it’s more diverse and inclusive than previous classes.

“60% of the class is made up of ethnic or gender diversity, meaning that within the Fort Wayne Fire Department we have had a mission going all the way back to Fire Chief Tim Davie to increase the diversity for the Fort Wayne Fire Department so that the fire department reflects the make up of our community,” said Chief Lahey.

Chief Lahey said it’s been a mission for decades to achieve this level of diversity within the department, spanning past fire chiefs. He also said it’s a testament to the hard work and effort the diversity and inclusion committee put into this year’s hiring process.

“So what we’ve learned over the past several decades is that we have to be very intentional about this effort,” said Chief Lahey. “We have to communicate a message to these groups that there is a place for them on the FWFD and we want to include them and that they do have an opportunity here to serve their community as long as they invest the time and effort into training themselves and being trained to save lives.”

After receiving 360 applications for the class, Chief Lahey said they narrowed it down to a top 75 applicants, and then down to the top 24 or 25 from that list. This year’s class has 24 recruits.

Applicants go through a three-step process to get into the program according to Chief Lahey. First, they must complete a candidate’s physical abilities test, then they take a written test and an oral interview following that. Once you’ve met the requirements and completed these three steps, applicants’ scores are added up from the three tests to make one composite score that then gets ranked with other applicants. It’s from there they’ll give a conditional offer of employment to the top applicants.

All in all, recruits go through 22 weeks of training at the fire academy and will even graduate with 7 Indiana certifications in:

  • Fire Fighter I
  • Fire Fighter II
  • Emergency Medical Technician (Basic)
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Technical Rescue
  • FEMA National Incident Management System
  • Fire Apparatus Driver Operator