Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said before the ceremony that the department's new members will play an integral role as Hagerstown continues to grow.
"Safetywise, I think (hiring them) was the most important thing we could have done," she said.
The mood was festive throughout most of the night.
The new firefighters mingled with family and friends before the ceremony began, and gathered afterward to dine on a catered meal that included chicken and lasagna.
Roger Otzelberger was voted the class' most outstanding recruit.
He said everyone in the class has served as a firefighter before in one capacity or another - most with volunteer fire departments in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The class started training Dec. 4 at the Hagerstown Fire Department Training Center on Bowman Avenue and finished Friday afternoon, he said. They were required to attend the city's academy to learn basic firefighting skills and become familiar with the Hagerstown Fire Department's protocol.
Otzelberger said the last few days of training were the most physically grueling because the recruits had to practice rescuing other firefighters. That exercise included carrying each other around, he said.
"We're ready to be out in the field," he said.
Otzelberger's classmate, Michael Muir, agreed, although he confessed to being a little sore after the last week of training.
"It feels like the truck ran over us," he said.
Mike Weller, the City of Hagerstown's fire prevention officer, said all of the new firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians as well.
And this year's class, besides being the largest in the city's history, claimed another milestone after one of its members, Deanna Glaze, became Hagerstown's first career female firefighter, he said.
"Firefighters are a unique brand of people who are dedicated to providing services to others," Weller said. "This ceremony is to honor our fellow brothers and our sister firefighters."
The new firefighters
The following firefighters officially became members of the Hagerstown Fire Department during a Friday night ceremony.
- Joseph Cambardella
- Timothy Gay
- Deanna Glaze
- Darrick Grose
- Brandon Higgins
- Tony Lida
- Michael Muir
- Roger Otzelberger
- Robert Petrunak
- Geoffrey Placek