Thomas Tiggs and his son, Andre, have a unique bond. They are both firefighters and have each other to thank for their college education.
Thomas became a firefighter by accident. In 1975, he went to take the police civil service test, but he was a day late. Instead he took the firefighter civil service test and passed. He has been working for the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department ever since. Working his way up the ladder, today he is Battalion Chief and is in charge of fire prevention education and building maintenance.
Years later, his son followed in his footsteps. Having grown up in firehouses, Andre took the police and fire civil service tests. The fire department just happened to call him first.
"One of my proudest moments was watching former Mayor Donna Owens pin the firefighter badge on my son. It was a great day," said Thomas.
After six years on the force, Andre became a fire investigator in charge of investigating all suspicious fires.
He determines how and where a fire starts as well as who might be responsible.
The Tiggs men love their jobs, but when they had the opportunity to take Owens classes, paid for by their department, the offer was too good to pass up. Both had attended college before, but quit for various reasons. They enrolled and vowed to encourage each other until they made it through to graduation day.
"There was one day when I was behind in English, work was busy and I was overwhelmed. I called my son to say I couldn't do it anymore. Andre wouldn't let me quit. He came over and we got caught up together," said Thomas.
Throughout their time at Owens, both men relied on each other for encouragement.
"I couldn't have done it without him. I made a promise to my parents and grandparents that I would get a degree. I did it for them," said Andre.
Last December, father and son graduated together.
"My proudest moment was when I heard our names at commencement. What we started together, we finished together," said Andre.