BILLINGS — After 14 weeks in training, 12 recruits graduated Tuesday during a ceremony held at the Billings Fire Department station one.
On Nov. 28, 11 of the recruits will start serving the Billings area and one will join the Lockwood department.
Cory Letendre, 33, is joining the Billings Fire Department, something he has dreamed of doing from a young age.
“[To] start serving the city we were trained to serve is going to be very special,” Letendre said Tuesday.
Lance Dollarhide, 35, was also graduating Tuesday and said it was a very special day.
“It’s definitely, probably, one of the best days of my life right now, for sure,” Dollarhide said.
“Absolutely,” Letendre said in agreement.
The title of best day for the now firefighters comes after 14 long weeks of training to prepare them to become firefighters.
“The last 14 weeks have been very grueling,” Dollarhide said.
Both agreed that "hose day" was the most memorable day during training.
“It was 100 plus degrees some days, and we were wearing full gear at times, and they kept us moving the entire time,” Letendre said.
But it was all worth it for them when their names were called and they received their pin, officially having "class dismissed" at the end of the ceremony.
Chelsea Thompson is the assistant training chief for the Billings Fire Department and was very pleased with the graduating class.
“We’re super excited for them to come on shift and serve the public… It is a huge relief to us. We had gone to the public and asked for this as a need for Billings Fire Department and they granted us that,” Thompson said.
The 11 graduates for Billings will be separated into different shifts, with two groups of four and one group of three.
“To be a part of this organization, and be a part of the job and the brotherhood has been something that I’ve always wanted. And it’s the best job in the world,” Letendre said.