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Students from high school quit their graduation ceremony to set off an unlit fire in their house with their classmates

The teens who are firefighters with Port Jefferson’s Port Jefferson Fire Department were called out to investigate an ensuing structure fire at the house of a classmate
Cover Image Source: Facebook/Port Jefferson Fire Department

A group of students from Long Island, New York changed their graduation gowns for firefighter equipment after the fire erupted near their school. The Port Jefferson High School students were about to walk across on the podium to present their degrees and were snapping photos with their families following the event when they got notified of an encroaching fire. The teens immediately–identified by their principal Eric Haruthunian, as Ryan Parmegiani, Kasumi Layne-Stasik, Hunter Volpi, Andrew Patterson, Shane Hartig, and Peter Rizzo–refused to do what they were doing and ran towards the Port Jefferson Fire Department firehouse to assist with the fire.

As reported by the news program Good Morning America, the teens, who were believed to be between 17 and 18 years old – volunteered for their local Port Jefferson Fire Department. “We were all still in our gowns. We had our diplomas and we took from our gowns. I didn’t realize that I had the tie,” said Rizzo, 17. The thing that made their brave actions this day so memorable is the way they were students, two of them on the first engine that arrived at the scene and four who were on a ladder truck – responded to a request for an unintentional fire in one of their fellow classmates’ residences. Port Jefferson fire chief Christian Neubert said that the student had just returned to his home after the graduation ceremony.

“Port Jefferson” is a small town,” Neubert said. “You have heard the phrase”it takes a village to raise a child? This is the place.” In a Facebook message congratulating the new firefighters, the fire department posted: “Last evening PJFD responded to a fire in a garage at Arlington Avenue just after 7:30. Six of the firefighters who were on the scene were just graduating from the Port Jefferson School District. While snapping pictures together with family, they rushed to the firehouse in order to deal with an alarm.”

“This year PJFD was able to have 8 of its members who graduated from Port Jefferson High School. They’ve all shown incredible commitment to the Department as well as the local community. We are extremely satisfied with their efforts and wish them the best of luck when they go off to college next year,” the post continued in the post, noting that the fire had been swiftly put out without any injuries and the fire not spreading to other structures. In an interview with Newsday, Neubert disclosed that the majority of the high schoolers enrolled in the department’s junior volunteer group at the age of 14. The group has been “full-fledged” members for one to two years after receiving intensive training.

“But you can’t tell what a person is going to perform until they’re performing,” Neubert said. “I’m extremely happy for their accomplishments.” Although their graduation day took an unexpected turn, students said that it proved to be a memorable event. “I took more photos of me during that fire, than of me at graduation. However, overall, I will remember it as an awesome memory and an interesting story to share with others,” shared 18-year-old Parmegiani. A lot of people users on Facebook applauded the teens for the bravery they did when the circumstances required it.

“I attended the ceremony of graduation to watch the daughter of a friend be awarded her diploma. I was awestruck by the number of graduates who mentioned the word “PJFD volunteer” in their walk-up description. We were able to hear the alarm sound and we thought it might be a salute to the junior volunteers. When I realize that the fire was actually a blaze and that they reacted, to it, I am more amazed and feel that the village is in good hands should it ever need to be. Thanks to everyone PJFD volunteers as well as the young people who took on the responsibility to carry on this amazing legacy,” commented Lauren Sheprow. “Wow. What an amazing testimony to these children and their desire to help others. Normal kids doing incredible work. What a bright future is ahead for them! They would make PJ very proud.” Jenna Kreitner Testa.

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