A 60-year-old retired postal worker. A three-time graduate of the Fire Academy. A woman whose PFD legacy dates back more than a century.
These are just a few of the standout members of Fire Cadet Class 196, one of the largest groups in recent memory to join the Philadelphia Fire Department.
The city has been eagerly awaiting the Nov. 13 graduation of these 121 EMT-certified firefighters, who will enable the PFD to begin reopening fire/EMS companies that were closed in 2009 during the Recession.
“We are thrilled to welcome these new members, who are committed to our mission of serving the city 24x7x365,” said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel.
The recruits were hired through a $16.6 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with additional funding from the city. They’ve spent the last nine months in a rigorous training program at the Fire Academy.
Among the members of Class 196:
- Michael Johnson, 60, a retired postal worker. He applied to take the firefighter exam in 2016 as a gesture of solidarity with his son – except his son ended up unable to take the test. Johnson took the exam anyway and – three years later – got the call for the Academy. “It’s been a helluva ride,” said Johnson. “I don’t feel 60.”
- Tyric Robinson, 39, who will soon be a three-time graduate of the Fire Academy. In 2013, Robinson joined Class 189 as a city correctional officer in order to serve on the prison’s fire unit. He then returned in 2015 to become a PFD emergency medical technician with Fire Service EMT Class 3. After working in Medic 33 for the past four years, he joined Class 196 in February. Robinson jokes he’s “almost a professional cadet” — just don’t ask him to pick his favorite class.
- Megan O’Drain, 27, who traces her PFD legacy back to her great-great-grandfather. Her great-grandfather also served in the department, as did her grandfather and second cousin, among other relatives. O’Drain has wanted to be a firefighter for as long as she can remember. “When you’re little, you think the fire truck is the best truck in the world,” said O’Drain. “At 27, I still think it is.”
Class 196 will demonstrate their skills for friends, relatives and colleagues at the Fire Academy during Family Day on Nov. 10 from 1-4 p.m. Graduation takes place Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Aspira Education Campus, 6301 N. 2nd St.