PITTSBURGH-Community College of Allegheny County graduate Megan
Barko was named Allegheny County Deputy Fire Marshall and Tank
Inspector in June. As such, she inspects above-ground and
underground storage tanks at fueling stations to ensure the safety
of customers, residents and station
Barko, a fourth-generation firefighter, joined her local
volunteer fire department at the age of 18. After graduating from
high school, she attended Robert Morris University to study
computer science but found that field did not match her interests.
Then, she heard about CCAC's FireVEST (Fire Volunteer Education,
Service & Training) program. Individuals enrolled in the
program receive a full scholarship to any associate degree or
certificate program at CCAC as well as the highest level of
training at the Allegheny County Fire Academy in exchange for a
five-year service commitment as a volunteer firefighter within
Allegheny County. Students are required to obtain Firefighter 1
certification, which enhances their skills.
In 2013, Barko earned an associate degree in Fire Science
Administration from CCAC. Upon graduating, she worked at
FirstEnergy Corp. performing inspection testing and maintenance of
fire extinguishers. She always wanted to work in Allegheny County
Emergency Services, so when she saw the opening she immediately
applied. Barko also serves as deputy fire chief at West Mifflin #3
Volunteer Fire Department, where she is the first woman to hold the
position. Five of her fellow firefighters, including two women, are
currently FireVEST students. She believes that men and women living
in Allegheny County with an interest in firefighting should
consider the program, as it is a unique opportunity not available
in other Pennsylvania counties. Also, women should not discount
their ability to become firefighters because "it all depends on
the person," according to Barko.
Barko is a firm believer in the FireVEST program, stating,
"I was able to graduate with a degree without paying for it,
which was awesome. Being able to do a two-year degree at no cost
was huge to me. I think it's a wonderful program."
FireVEST students can attend part time, as long as they have at
least one credit-bearing course every fall and spring term and take
entry-level firefighting at the Allegheny County Fire Academy.
Applications are available at ccac.edu, search
keyword "FireVEST," or by contacting the Allegheny
County Fire Academy. For more information on the FireVEST program,
contact Sandy Bayer at the Allegheny County Fire Academy at
412.931.3158, ext. 5 or firstname.lastname@example.org.