Graduating is not an easy feat, especially if you are from the rigorous 6 month MAAC(Multi Agency Academic Cooperative) firefighting course.
42 men and women from 11 different Region fire departments around the county started the MAAC class six months ago. Out of the 42 students, 26 of them received their diploma Thursday night at Wheeler High School. These students volunteered their time and effort to become the best firefighters they could be.
Months of blood, sweat, and tears were put into this class while students worked toward their final goal of graduating. They went through hard, difficult training that wore them down bit by bit.
“I was definitely pushed to my limits,” said Maxwell Lutz, a student from Coolspring Fire Department. “I wasn’t always sure if I would be able to complete this class, that in itself pushed me to do my best and finish.”
The graduation was conducted by the Burns Harbor Fire Chief, Robert Wesley. Wesley has been a part of the fire department for 30 years, and seeing these students graduate from the class was a very big accomplishment for him.
“It’s a very proud moment for us when they graduate,” said Wesley. “The whole process is very rewarding.”
“It makes us very proud to have a group of firefighters going out into the world,” said William Arney, who was also a part of the graduation. “The best part is always seeing them come from ground zero, and watching them become who they are today.”
Along with the hard training and long hours of work came playful and fun times as well. Students became as close as family and created unbreakable bonds during their six months of training. The training tested out the classmates ability to work together and follow strict directions.
Students participated in many different training courses, from crawling through tough, muddy terrain, to putting out live fires that simulate real life situations.
“My favorite part of the training was the live fire days,” said Wesley. “They actually go into two-story buildings and fight live fires. They were rockstars, they did a great job overall.”
Each one of the 26 graduates had a goal that was set in their mind since day one of the MAAC training course. They all endured physical and mental pain, along with the hours of hard work and focus. They met their goal and not only left with new relationships and a diploma, but they became a firefighter.