The New York City Fire Department on Friday added to its ranks for the first time in five years, graduating 285 new probationary firefighters.
The ceremony was held at Brooklyn College.
Of the new cadets, 13 percent are black, 23 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian, making it the most diverse class in the department's history.
The graduates also include five women, the most in one class in 30 years.
Twenty-six members served in the U.S. military, including six who served in combat.
All were previously EMTs or paramedics and are considered to be technically promoted to firefighter.
The new members of New York's Bravest encouraged others to follow in their footsteps.
"You should come prepared, prepared for a lot of physical work, a lot of cardio, a lot of running, a lot of weight training. But it's doable," said FDNY Firefighter Francesca Bracaglia.
"It's a pleasure. I was told the numbers dramatically increased when it came to diversity, there's a lot of Hispanics, a lot of blacks, a lot of Asians that made it into this class, and it's a good thing, in general," said FDNY Firefighter Eric Sanchez.
The graduation comes days after a federal appeals court overturned earlier rulings, finding that the city did not intentionally discriminate against minorities when hiring new firefighters.
Involvement in the legal process prevented the department from hiring for years.