HOUSTON -- For the latest class of cadets for the Houston Fire Department this was the first day of school.
They gather here with common goals, with the tools to build the bravest.
“Confidence. Character,” said Kristen Lowe of her motivation to come to the HFD Fire Academy.
The pros to like Senior Cpt. Chris Hill are here to mold them.
“It is a profound sense of responsibility that we have,” Hill said.
It might look like years of others, but this class is different.
These cadets follow history of the worst kind. They follow the fire that claimed the lives of four HFD firefighters in May. The last time a new cadet class sat in these chairs was last year and one of those cadets is already gone.
Anne Sullivan died in the Southwest Inn fire.
“It is difficult and today was the first day. I look out to where the cadet sat and see a different face,” Hill said.
This is the 14th class that Hill has taught. He knows that eventually the lessons learned from the Southwest Inn fire will become a part of curriculum here and until then, history will serve as a lesson.
“We always try to do things the right way and teach things correctly. I don’t know that anything that we could have done would have changed anything,” Hill said.
The class of 84 cadets had all already been offered admission here at the academy when the Southwest Inn fire happened. Not one of them changed their mind.
Of the three women in this diverse class, Kristen Lowe is the first Asian female in HFD.
“I am very proud of it. I am excited to step up and prove myself,” Lowe said.
When it comes to any class, you cannot teach everything.
“I don’t want to waste this life. I want to do something that has purpose, has meaning behind it, where I can be courageous and compassionate,” HFD Cadet Alison Graham said.
That you are born with.