AFD honors graduates of 2016 Pass the Torch Academy

Months of hard work and sacrifice culminated for more than 30 men and women who's dream is to one day become a fire fighter. On Saturday, the Austin Fire Department held a ceremony for the 2016 graduating class of the Pass the Torch Academy.

"Well the last six months has definitely been eye-opening. Getting a lot of experience with the Pass the Torch program. Learning what it's about to not only be a fire fighter but to be a better leader and a better teammate," Brian Moss, a graduate of the academy, said.

The more than 30 fire fighter hopefuls, who volunteered their time, were pushed to their limits in order to understand the rigors of the job.

"It was amazing. I got to meet a lot of new friends, that I will keep for a long, long time. But most importantly it was more hands on. I loved every part of it," Algassimu Bah, a graduate of the program, said.

"(I) definitely enjoyed my time. You get tested in many ways that you wouldn't think possible. The heat was definitely a factor and to have to think on the go, to think clearly, and make decisions while being in these tough and uncomfortable situations," Kevin  Wells, a graduate of the program, said.

So for the few that will one day make the transition from civilian to public servant, they will be better prepared to serve their city.

"We have found that the Pass the Torch Academy has been very successful in grooming individuals to be successful in the application process as well as graduating from the cadets and now wearing the uniform of the Austin Fire Fighter," Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr said.

If you are interested in signing up for the academy, you can do so by going to