CCAC FireVEST graduate named Allegheny County Deputy Fire Marshall and Tank Inspector

Megan Barko
 
Article by: CCAC Public Relations

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 employees.                

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 firevest@alleghenycounty.us.

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