VALPARAISO, IN – In partnership with the Northwest Indiana District 1 Firefighter Training Council, the MAAC Foundation is proud to announce the graduation of its 11th Fire Academy. The ceremony will be held on Friday, April 21, 2023, at the MAAC Foundation First Responders Training Campus.

The 17 graduates representing the towns of Concord, Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Michigan City, New Carlisle, North Judson, Portage, and St. John – have completed a rigorous 11-week training program that included instruction in fire suppression, hazmat operations, and technical rescue, along with other firefighting skills. They have also learned about the importance of community service and public education.

“We are proud to welcome these 17 new firefighters to our community,” said Celina Weatherwax, President of the MAAC Foundation. “They have demonstrated the dedication and commitment necessary to serve as first responders and we are confident that they will make a positive impact in Elkhart, Lake, La Porte, Porter, and St. Joseph Counties.”

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have trained these capable firefighters,” said Battalion Chief Chris Crail, Academy Commander. “They have learned to adapt and overcome challenges throughout the academy. It is my hope that these students understand the skills they learned here are applicable to more than only firefighting, these are skills to carry with them for the rest of their life.”

The names of the graduates and their fire departments are as follows:

Gabriel Azcona, Crown Point Fire-Rescue

Alec Barney, East Chicago Fire Department

Brian Bentley, Michigan City Fire Department

Miguel Fernandez, East Chicago Fire Department

Britney Horvath, New Carlisle Fire Department

John Jordan, Portage Fire Department

Logan Kwiatkowski, Dyer Fire Department

Richard Nagy, Michigan City Fire Department

Blake Ostrom, Concord Township Fire Department

Kobe Roberson, Michigan City Fire Department

Connor Rucklos, Portage Fire Department

Noah Sanchez, North Judson Fire Department

Jeffery Schafer, St. John Fire Department

Michael Swift, Portage Fire Department

Grant Wild, Portage Fire Department

Jacob Wood, New Carlisle Fire Department

Jacob Zakutansky, Portage Fire Department

The graduation ceremony is open to the public and will be held on:

Friday, April 21, 2023, at 6:00 PM CST

The MAAC First Responders Training Campus

Heroes’ Hangout

4203 Montdale Park Drive

Valparaiso, Indiana 46383


The MAAC’s mission is to facilitate training and skill enhancement on a comprehensive campus that is safe and inclusive to all first responders and the community. For more information about the MAAC Foundation, please visit