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City Graduates 148 New Firefighters, 21 Paramedics

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia not only has 148 new firefighters and 21 Fire Service Paramedics, but also a new focus on fire prevention.

Penn's Irvine Auditorium was packed to the rafters as the double class of firefighters and single class of paramedics graduated and took their oaths.

As cadets, the firefighters went through a Community Risk Assessment Course, which Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says is a first in America.

"The way to attack fire is to prevent it in the first place," Ayers explained.

So these young men and women go to their new postings, to assess fire risks, learn where seniors live and educate people on fire safety.

Ayers called them the "tip of the spear."

"They are the change agents that we're sending out to sprink through the entire community. They'll be going into firehouses throughout the entire city," Ayers said.

Ayers says there's already been great progress on prevention. 2012 had the lowest fire fatality toll ever in the city, but he wants even better results.

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