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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

Heroes Trained Here
Insights, Spring ’03

Doug WrightOnce upon a time, firefighters were an unheralded group. But 9/11 changed everything, with a new awareness of the extreme sacrifices these heroes make every day and of the vitally important role they play in ensuring public safety. At Montgomery College, prospective “heroes” can enroll in degree and certificate programs in fire science management and fire and arson investigation.

Student Doug Wright, 19, of Frederick, Md., cut his teeth on a fire hose. His father is a lieutenant in the D.C. fire department. “Basically, I was born and raised in the fire service,” he said. “A lot of students in this program have parents in the public safety field—policemen, medics.” Wright, a volunteer at Independent Hose Company No.1 in Frederick, Md., likes the family atmosphere in the firehouse. “You have to get along with a lot of people. You live, sleep, and eat with those people,” he said. “It’s a brotherhood.”

A Hot Career
Many people who are attracted to firefighting note that the field provides great job security and the opportunity to perform an essential public function. Montgomery College’s fire science degree program assists career and volunteer firefighters, as well as uniformed fire service personnel preparing for rank promotions. The fire and arson investigation certificate program covers facets of both fire science and criminal justice. After receiving the certificate, students may work toward the A.A.S. in either fire science or criminal justice.

Doug Wright puts in long hours at the fire station and studies in the bunkhouse. When the alarm goes off, he drops his books and races off to a fire. He doesn’t mind it a bit. “Being able to help others is what it’s all about. It’s their hour of need, and you’re the one able to help them.”

In a Class by Themselves
Professor Irey says students in the program are a rare breed. “Students in this program are the most respectful human beings I’ve ever met,” she said. “Firefighters put everybody before themselves.” “Fire people are the most modest people,” agrees student Wright, who hopes to become a firefighter and a medic. “You never hear them bragging. When someone you’ve helped says ‘thank you,’ it’s like a million bucks.”