Where in the world is Julien Farges, ’13? He could be just about anywhere. Since earning his Fire Protection Technology degree at OCC he’s worked in several far away places including Antarctica and Hawaii. He’s living the advice he loves to share. “Don’t be afraid to travel to where you don’t know anybody. There’s no better way to grow and mature.”
Farges came to OCC from The Summit School in Queens where he received his diploma in 2011. His desire to help people in their time of need brought him to Central New York. “I choose OCC because it has one of the most reputable fire protection programs in the state. It’s reputable because of the department chair, Doug Whittaker (amongst other experienced instructors) and because of the bunk-in program offered by the extremely busy and progressive area fire departments.”
The bunk-in program is a win-win-win for area fire departments and students. It allows residents to receive enhanced fire protection, saves student’s a significant amount of money in housing costs and provides them the opportunity to work side-by-side with professionals while receiving valuable hands-on training 24 hours a day.
While enrolled at OCC, Farges was in the first class of bunk-in students at the Solvay Fire Department where firefighter Paul Veri helped start the program. “I learned so much from Paul and other firefighters there. We were held to a very high standard. Working with the Solvay Fire Department presented me with a wide range of experiences. In the fire service the hands on experience is just as important as classroom education, so the bunk-in program was extremely valuable.”
After earning his degree in 2013 Farges enrolled at Empire State College where he would earn a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management. While taking classes online he worked for Rural Metro Medical Services in Syracuse for a year. Then his travels began:
Farges spent a year with the Ocean City, Maryland Fire Department.
- He worked as a firefighter at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia where he learned how to fight a rocket fire. “The things we had to deal with were unique. Being part of the science community was very interesting.”
- His next stop was McMurdo Station in Antarctica where he spent about 12 months on ice. “It was a science base with dorms and a cafeteria and creative, interesting people… like a community college. I liked it the best. It’s the one place where I felt like I was at home. There’s a strong community and everyone is open-minded and well-traveled. I fell in love with the community.”
- Farges went from Antarctica to Nevada where he spent approximately 3 months working as a medic at the Burning Man event.
- His next stop was Honolulu, Hawaii where he served as a dispatcher for the 9-1-1 system.
Farges is now back on the mainland and driving across the country to New Orleans where he has a job lined up as an industrial firefighter. Once he settles in, he plans to continue his education by taking nursing courses. “I’m so lucky. I’m just really having a good time experiencing so many places.”
This May it will be six years since he earned his Fire Protection technology degree at OCC but the lessons learned and the experiences he had while a student here continue to guide him. “I’m extremely grateful for my education at OCC. My classes helped me to start to think about the big picture of fire service (management) in addition to day-to-day tactical firefighter operations. It’s important when you’re starting out as a firefighter having the right people influence you. Being at OCC and doing the bunk-in program was the right type of surroundings for me.”