Program Showcase

Ignite Your Career with the Fire Science Program
Alumnus and Philadelphia Fire Department Lieutenant John Narkin

Ignite Your Career with the Fire Science Program

For students seeking a career as a firefighter and for those already in the field, a Fire Science degree offers valuable training and knowledge. This degree also gives Philadelphia firefighters and fire officers an extra edge in advancing their careers.

"Only having to come to the College a couple of days in a semester helped a lot with my work schedule"

“Firefighters find that an education at the College prepares them for leadership positions within the depart­ment, and our graduates do well on promotional exami­nations,” said Tom Garrity, coordinator of the Fire Science program and deputy chief in the Philadelphia Fire Department. “Most of them are interested in moving up.”

The Philadelphia Fire Department awards those with an associate’s degree a half-point extra to their pro­motional examinations, which can move them ahead five or more positions on a promotion list. Many students in the program are already Philadelphia firefighters.

Alumnus John Narkin graduated from the College in 2004 with his Fire Science degree, which led him to a promotion to lieutenant. He currently serves on the Hazmat One unit of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Narkin went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety from Holy Family University in May 2007 and started a consulting business in hazardous materials and fire safety. The College holds a transfer agreement with Holy Family, which helped ensure that his credits trans­ferred toward his bachelor’s degree.

Companies that have to meet federal requirements for hazardous materials training also hire him as a trainer. Narkin plans on starting his master’s degree in fall 2008 at Saint Joseph’s University and majoring in Homeland Security.

“Without my degree from Community College of Philadelphia, I wouldn’t be able to have the business opportunities I have now, as well as the general knowledge I have for my new fire department career,” said Narkin. “The faculty’s experience was top notch. I use everything they taught me. Their real-world experience drives the point home.”

In order for Narkin to pursue his associate’s degree and attend class, he constantly had to juggle shifts with his co-workers at the fire department. Distance Education classes at the College helped alleviate this pressure.

"Only having to come to the College a couple of days in a semester helped a lot with my work schedule,"he said. Without online classes, Narkin figures that it would have taken him another year or two to finish his degree.

Like Narkin, firefighter and part-time student Jennifer Leary is still learning new things from class in addition to working in the field. “The classes prepare you for the job,” said Leary.

Full-time student Michael Mitchell served as a volunteer firefighter in high school while growing up around Reading. After exploring other fields of study at Kutztown University, he decided to pursue a Fire Science degree.

Michael Mitchell
Fire Science student Michael Mitchell

“I wanted to go to a school where I could do what I loved,” he said.
Mitchell chose the College because he believed it “offered more” than other institutions. He also liked
the look of the College. “The campus was small, organized and well-kept.”

Currently in his second semester, Mitchell is impressed with the Fire
Science faculty.

“They have a lot of knowledge,” he said. “They are individuals I can really listen to. They’ve been in the line of work for years.” Mitchell’s goal is to become a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department. When asked why he wanted to become a firefighter, he replied, “It’s not about the glory, it’s the satisfaction of helping people.”