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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -
The Toledo Fire Department welcomed 47 new firefighters to their ranks on Friday, but it should have been 48.
The 2013 fire class graduated on Friday. Private James Dickman would have been among them if he hadn't died in the line of duty on Jan. 26.
The graduation ceremony was a little different this year, as the department welcomed the new class and recognized their two recently fallen brothers.
"We fight with courage, we stand with pride, we honor those who gave their lives" was the class motto, written by Private Dickman. And that's what they did Friday.
"We lost a very close friend and a brother, but we also accomplished a very big milestone in our lives, so it has its ups and downs," said Joseph Bernard Sullivan. "We're just going to try and move forward and honor our fallen brother by hitting the streets and working hard in his honor."
Dickman was previously a firefighter at another department, so although he was still in the 2013 Toledo class, he had also been released to serve on the line ahead of time.
Fire Chief Luis Santiago spoke of how proud Dickman was of his profession. They even left a chair empty in recognition of him.
"There are some conflicting emotions," Chief Santiago said. "Again, the sadness of one of their brothers not being able to graduate, but the joy of being done with the academy and ready to go to work, as well."