The first class of rookie firefighters representing a joint agency effort graduated at the newly dedicated Lawrence Jacobsen Regional Fire Training Center in a Friday afternoon ceremony.
The facility was christened as well, with Jacobsen himself swinging a bottle of Totts sparking wine against the wall of the new concrete "burn building."
The training center, at 2236 East College Parkway next to the airport and Fire Station 2, has seen major improvements since the original building went up in 1978.
State funding made many improvements possible, including a simulated collapsed building and hazardous-materials training areas. Credit for securing the state funding goes to former Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, who is retiring after 24 years in the Senate and 16 years in the Assembly.
"Jake is the guy who made it all happen," said Battalion Chief Dan Shirey. "It was just a wild idea I had, but he ran with it. If it wasn't for him none of this would have happened."
Southwest Gas Corp. also made a large financial contribution to the center, which cost about $700,000.
"Our goal was to help develop a realistic training facility that could benefit the Carson City Fire Department training program, and other fire departments throughout Northern Nevada," said Dennis Redmond, Southwest Gas vice president of its Northern Nevada Division.
The five-man recruit class presented the flags at the start of the graduation ceremony.
The recruits came up with their own motto: "Strength and unity."
Graduates included three men from Carson City and two from Incline Village. The Carson City men were Shane Reed, Jason Tristao and Chris Mason, while graduates Jeff Cutler and Travis Grant came from Incline Village.
"From day one, we didn't know any of these guys," said graduate Travis Grant, who had previously worked on a hand crew in Incline Village and with the Black Mountain Hot Shots out of Minden. "By day two were like best friends."
Firefighter-paramedic Bob Charles, who trained the five graduates, also described the family feeling among the recruits.
"We told them to hang their turncoats so they look uniform and one time we were like, 'Go get a camera!' because they had hung them so that each one had its arm up on the shoulder of the one in front of it."
Mayor Ray Masayko, who attended to show support along with Supervisor Pete Livermore, City Manager John Berkich and a Careflight helicopter crew, said the skills the recruits learned at the facility would someday save their lives or the lives of the people they rescue.
"And it's also a fitting tribute to you, Jake," he said with a nod to Jacobsen.