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04-26-2010 -- CCAC FireVEST graduate says full scholarships build volunteer fire departments
PITTSBURGH-When he earned an associate's degree from the
Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in December, Edward
Bloomer became just the second person to graduate through the
college's FireVEST program. And the North Side resident is
determined not to be the last.
Bloomer said he has promoted the FireVEST program, which
provides full scholarships to new and existing volunteer
firefighters in Allegheny County, among his fellow members at
Seville Volunteer Fire Department in Ross. One of the junior
members will graduate from high school this spring. Bloomer said
the "full" aspect of the scholarship-it covers tuition, fees and
books-took a few minutes to sink in.
"Yeah, it's real," he recalled telling him. "They just helped
A partnership between CCAC and Allegheny County, the FireVEST
program provides scholarships to residents of Allegheny County who
are either current volunteers or who join a volunteer fire
department in Allegheny County.
"The FireVEST program is an investment in our communities that
encourages community service, provides educational opportunity and
helps sustain local volunteer fire companies as an integral and
vital part of public safety," said Charles Blocksidge, PhD,
executive director of the CCAC-Allegheny County Workforce
Bloomer has been a member of Seville VFD for 25 years, and he
has been a paramedic with the department for most of that time. He
said he plans to build on his CCAC degree in General Studies,
transferring to Drexel University or the University of Pittsburgh
for a bachelor's degree in Emergency Medicine.
While he said that membership at his department has remained
relatively steady during his tenure, many of the other departments
across Allegheny County are struggling with declining enrollment.
Bloomer said that people often don't realize that there are many
roles in a fire department, not just those who rush into burning
"We have one member with a commercial driver's license who
drives the truck and runs the water supply," Bloomer said. "That
frees up another firefighter." Others can manage the business and
public relations side of a department or serve as mechanics.
"There's a place for almost anyone," he said.
Applicants must apply and be accepted to CCAC; file for federal
and state financial aid; and complete the financial aid process on
time and in its entirety. Applications for the fall 2010 term must
be postmarked by May 15. They are available on CCAC's web site at
(search keyword "FireVEST") or by contacting the Allegheny County
Fire Academy at 412-931-3158, ext. 5.
If awarded a scholarship, the recipient must meet the following
The FireVEST Advisory Board will review all applications and
other forms to assess scholarship eligibility and to determine
scholarship recipients. Being accepted into membership of the
sponsoring agency (volunteer fire company) and/or being accepted
for enrollment at CCAC does not guarantee the student will be
awarded a scholarship under the FireVEST program, nor does it
guarantee acceptance into limited-enrollment CCAC programs.
Instead, the recruitment needs of the sponsoring agencies are the
first priority when selecting scholarship recipients.
"The FireVEST program provides an important incentive to attract
and retain members at the county's 200 volunteer fire departments,"
said Al Wickline, administrator of the Allegheny County Fire
Academy. "These skilled individuals will strengthen the fire
departments which will benefit the residents of the County by
providing fire, EMS, rescue and Haz-Mat services for the today and
into the future."
Bloomer said that the junior member he spoke with has applied
for the program, and several other members of his department are
seriously considering it. He hopes more will do the same. "This is
a great opportunity to serve the community and get your education
paid for," he said. "Why not?"
For additional information on the FireVEST program, contact the
Allegheny County Fire Academy at 412.931.3158 ext. 5 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About CCACThe Community College of Allegheny County is the largest
institution of postsecondary higher education in Pennsylvania. The
college serves 31,000 credit students through 170 degree and
certificate programs and offers thousands of lifelong learning
non-credit and workforce development courses to 33,000 students
annually. Incorporating a learning-centered environment committed
to the future of the region, CCAC continues to expand its reach
through innovative programming and accessible instruction offered
via convenient day, evening, weekend and online courses. With four
campuses and six centers serving Allegheny County and surrounding
communities, CCAC endeavors to fulfill its mission to provide
affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse
and supportive learning environment that prepares the region's
residents for academic, professional and personal success in our
changing global society.