Conroe Firefighter is College's First Fire Science Degree Graduate
Published on: November 04, 2011
Though only three-years-old, the fire science technology program at Lone Star College-Montgomery is really heating up, as close to 100 students have completed the basic firefighter certificate program.
But the real chief among the students is Marco Guillen, a firefighter with the City of Conroe who is LSC-Montgomery’s first student to complete an associate of applied science degree in fire science technology. The 31-year-old from Spring received his degree in August.
The associate of applied science degree in fire science technology, which LSC-Montgomery added to its existing certificate program, encompasses more than 70 hours of coursework. It includes basic firefighter certification, basic emergency medical technician service certification, various fire science electives, and other core courses like English, math, and fine arts.
Since Guillen already has his basic firefighter certification—in fact, he’ll earn his intermediate firefighter certification in January—and had previously completed several pre-requisite courses at the University of Houston, he was able to finish the degree in less than a year.
“The fire science courses were taught by other firefighters, so I could really relate to them,” said Guillen. “Plus, I was able to study during down time at work.”
As a career firefighter, Guillen was able to complete the degree mostly free of charge thanks to Texas Education Code 54.208, as amended by House Bill 2013, passed in 2009, which exempts employed firefighters (or active, certified volunteer firefighters) from paying tuition or fees associated with a fire science program at an eligible educational institution.
“It’s like a scholarship, and I couldn’t really pass that up,” said Guillen. “Plus, this is a risky, physical job, so it’s good that I’ll always have something to fall back on.”
In addition to working toward departmental promotions within Conroe Fire Department, Guillen has plans to continue climbing the ladder of success by completing a bachelor’s degree. He’ll start the public service leadership program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in January.
“When I had my boys, I knew I needed to get my degree,” said Guillen, whose young, vivacious sons keep him on high-alert, even when he’s off-duty. “If they want to be firefighters, that’s great. But I want them to have options and never say, ‘you didn’t go to college, so why should I?’”
“Plus, I’ve never met a firefighter who said they didn’t enjoy their job,” he added. “You do see a lot, so I’ve learned to take the good with the bad. But overall, it’s fulfilling and puts my life in perspective. And, I love the camaraderie and hanging out with the guys at the station. We’re brothers, and it make us more effective when we’re on a scene.”
The fire science technology program at LSC-Montgomery also includes a basic structural firefighter certificate option geared for those interested in becoming a firefighter.
The two-semester program, which concludes with an academy graduation, prepares students for the state exam with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection, a requirement for basic firefighter certification and an entry-level position at most departments.
Several of LSC-Montgomery’s academy graduates have received jobs with fire departments including CFD, Caney Creek, Houston, Georgetown, Little York, Port Author, South Montgomery County, The Woodlands, and Willis.
Additionally, Branden Bell has been identified as a hiring candidate for West Metro Fire Department, a fire department in Denver, Colo. that services a population of about 270,000 people.
“The size of the department is what attracted me to apply there in the first place,” said Bell, who was a part of LSC-Montgomery’s fifth fire science academy. “All the stations and training facilities are well-funded and well-equipped, and I appreciate everything that I learned from LSC-Montgomery that helped place me here.”
For more information on LSC-Montgomery’s fire science technology program, visit www.LoneStar.edu/fire-science-dept-montgomery; or contact David Griffin, the fire science technology program coordinator, at 281.210.5820 or David.K.Griffin@LoneStar.edu.
LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call 936.273.7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.
With more than 75,000 students in credit classes for fall 2011, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.