Largest recruitment class in Winston-Salem Fire Department history graduates

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Friday morning in Winston-Salem, 38 men and one woman graduated from training and officially became Winston-Salem firefighters.

“It was 8 months, it was a very, very big learning curve,” said William Rivers, president of the graduating class.

After four year in the Marine Corps, Rivers, a Winston-Salem native, returned home to help care for his mother. After she passed, he found the job he had to be unfulfilling.

“Moving equipment, moving product, it just didn’t fulfill me the way that I thought that it should,” he said.

So he decided to join the fire department, and at the beginning of training, he was chosen as class president

“Because we had the largest recruit class in Winston-Salem history, I had to figure out a way to break them down into smaller manageable groups,” he said.

Recruit class 24 is a diverse group. Along with some Winston-Salem natives and residents from surroundings counties, the class had members from Virginia, and as far away as California.

"We’ve been on a roof where its blazing hot and we’ve just been working for hours and hours, there’s no place any of us would rather be,” Rivers said.

Training for new recruits includes everything from EMT classes to fire behavior to learning how to pump water to a fire.

“I thought all we did was, there’s a fire, call us we put it out, but there’s so much more,” Rivers said.

It’s that training that Rivers says has these 39 new fire fighters prepared to protect the city.

“We’re gonna go in with tools and with the knowledge to be able to perform like we’ve been here the whole time, so I believe it’s gonna be good for the city,” he said.