Roanoke Valley welcomed more than 20 new fire fighters to the force on Wednesday.

Recruits from the city of Roanoke, Salem and Roanoke County graduated from the academy.

After 18 grueling weeks, they each got to walk across the stage at the Roanoke Civic Center to be pinned.

Many said they are excited to serve their community and start a new chapter of their lives.

"It was intense, but rewarding at times and that type of intense training you gotta go through the most intense training to be ready for the most intense situation,” said graduate Leonard Dillon.

The graduates received their station assignments just minutes after walking across the stage.

Many will begin their duties as a fire fighter on Thursday.