Volunteer firefighters graduate from Roanoke County fire academy

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Kayla Jones is carrying on a family tradition. 

"It's been a dream of mine for a long time. I've grown  up around firefighters. It's just been in my blood, essentially," said Kayla, a Roanoke County fire academy graduate.

She is officially a graduate of the Roanoke County Volunteer Fire Academy, and at Wednesday night's graduation ceremony, a very special guest pinned her badge and welcomed her to the ranks -- her father. David Jones has been working with Roanoke County Fire and Rescue for more than 20 years. 
He says seeing his daughter graduate from the academy was unforgettable.

"Just super excited. I knew she could do it and she gave 100 percent. Me and her mother are very proud of her," said David, a paramedic firefighter for Roanoke County.

And Kayla appreciated every second of that moment too.

"It was very special. I remember years ago, I had my baby pictures taken in a fire truck. He's been at this a long time, and I really wanted to follow in his footsteps and make him proud," said Kayla.

Some of Kayla's fellow firefighters were also pinned by family members. Ten graduates made it through months of intense training. Each of the graduates spent months and more than 250 hours learning and preparing to risk their lives to save others. 

"We just want them to be productive and continue to keep training and go ahead and work successfully within our system," said Stephen Simon, chief of Roanoke County Fire and Rescue.

Kayla is a student at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences. Her goal is to become a career paramedic firefighter.

Roanoke County typically has about 200 career firefighters and 200 volunteers.