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PHOTOS: Pittsburgh's Newest Firefighters Show Off Skills, Talk Training During COVID-19

Isabelle Schmeler
90.5 WESA
Class of 2021 graduate Andrew Koziell, poses with his daughter after being officially sworn into the department at a ceremony on Friday, March 19, 2021.

For Andrew Koziell, the past 32 weeks have been “trying” as a Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire recruit.  The pandemic has posed challenges for the class of 2021 firefighters, but this group persisted through a training season unlike any other. 

“I’m tired, but I’m also extremely happy,” Koziell said, holding his daughter alongside family members who attended the outdoor graduation ceremony on Friday. The event included a live skills demonstration at the Pittsburgh Police and Fire Training Academy on Washington Boulevard.


Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
Newly sworn in firefighters approach a burning building as a part of the skills demonstration.

The 2021 class consisted of 23 graduates, a smaller class size than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic safety precautions. City of Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said this graduating class in particular has undergone more intensive training than usual, however, he said this makes them more prepared for the field.

“Get used to it,” Jones joked to recruits as they were sworn in by Mayor Bill Peduto. 

After the swearing-in ceremony, the recruits demonstrated their skills and put out a fire at the training facility. They also showed their emergency medical technician skills, something all firefighters are also trained in alongside fire safety. 

The new firefighters will join their assigned departments on Monday for their first assignments.

Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
The class of 2021 Pittsburgh Fire Bureau faces friends and family members after demonstrating their newly acquired skills.
Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
Richard Bellasario poses with his daughter dressed in a firefighter’s costume after the ceremony. The outfit has the family's last name on the back.

Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Fire Fighters IAFF Local No.1 President Ralph Sicuro addressing new graduates.
Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
New recruits Scott Kramer (left) and Dan King (middle) pose with Captain Richard King (right).
Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
A demo tower recruits used during their training at the Pittsburgh Police & Fire Training Academy on Washington Boulevard.
Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
Family and friends of the new recruits gathered along the training facilities to watch the skills demonstration.
Credit Isabelle Schmeler / 90.5 WESA
Chief Darryl Jones talks about the resilience of the class of 2021.

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