SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- There are 18 new Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District firefighters/paramedics who graduated from recruit academy Friday evening.

The ceremony was held at the city of Citrus Heights Community Center. The recruits went through an 18-week academy that involved drill ground and classroom training to help them develop skills critical in emergency operations.

"It's been a journey to get here," said Nicole Barfknecht, a probationary firefighter. "I didn't always know this is something I wanted to do. It was something my mother had mentioned to be years ago."

During the 18-week academy, the Camp Fire started.

"Fear because that's natural but you have to most past that when you realize what your goal is," Barfknecht said.

She says the job is more than a title. It's a calling.

"If you focus more on what's at stake people's lives, people's property," Barfknecht said. "I enjoy helping people. I enjoy making things a little bit better. This world is dangerous. There are no guarantees in life."

Some graduates from June were also present during the graduation ceremony.

Kevin Steward was sent out to the Camp Fire.

"We were deployed a couple of weeks ago," Steward said. "We were out there for 16 days. It was something a lot of us never experienced in that magnitude. It was completely different."

Several of the graduating firefighters were already employed by Metro Fire as paramedics in their single role paramedic program (SRP).

During the ceremony, the graduates received their probationary station and shift assignments following fire service tradition.

Continue the conversation with ABC10’s Ananda Rochita.