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Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Leadville presented 18 firefighters with Fire Academy I certificates in a commencement ceremony on December 7.

Eighteen Fire Academy students graduated from Colorado Mountain College on Dec. 7 at the Leadville campus. Instructed by firefighter professionals from nine regional fire districts, the graduates are now prepared for regional fire department jobs. Firefighters are, from left, front row, Jesse Gallup, Nick DeLorey, Nathaniel Cope, Zachary Cherry, Jonathan Burnham, Michael Boettcher, Anthony Belmonte and Nolan Anderson; from left, back row, Corbin Wilson, Evan Stewart, Robert Shelley, Kyle Rogness, James Noah, Justin Jacobi, Peter Holmstrom, William Holder, Jaden Hermosillo and Thomas Harmon. (Photo by Carrie Click)

Since August, cadets have been taking two college-level courses totaling 12 credit hours: Firefighter I and Hazardous Materials Operations. The academy curriculum included classes at CMC Leadville and hands-on training at the college’s live burn facility in Eagle County.

Addressing the new firefighters at the commencement were four individuals: Lieutenant Zak Miller of Vail Fire (and CMC’s fire science program coordinator), Eagle River Fire Protection District firefighter and instructor Brandon Drury, Leadville Fire Rescue Chief Dan Dailey and Eagle River Fire Rescue Chief Karl Bauer.

In his address, Bauer asked for a moment of silence and then spoke of the death of Summit Fire & EMS firefighter Ken Jones, who died fighting a fire at Copper Mountain early that same morning. Bauer told the new firefighters that serving others was central to firefighter Jones’ life, and he congratulated the graduates for their choice to serve others as well.

As part of the ceremony, Chief Dailey awarded Instructor of the Year to Ryan Gregor. Both Cadet of the Year and Academic Excellence awards went to graduate Zachary Cherry, and Jonathan Burnham received the Certificate of Perseverance.

Certification prepares graduates for firefighting careers with Leadville and Lake County Fire Rescue, which also includes surrounding fire departments.

Fire Academy instructors are both active and retired firefighters, representing nine fire departments throughout the region – including Eagle River, Summit, Vail, Greater Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Salida, Colorado River, Leadville, and Red, White and Blue.

Colorado Mountain College Leadville offers the Fire Academy I certificate program each fall semester.