Julien Farges, ’13

Julien Farges, ’13 Fire Protection Technology degree has taken him around the world. His travels include a year spent working in Antarctica.

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 (right) and a co-worker set up a fence at Burning Man in Nevada.

    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.”

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Statewide Award for Bunk-In Program

 

The East Syracuse Fire Department won a statewide award for working with OCC to create the Firefighter Bunk-In program more than twenty years ago.

OCC’s Fire Protection Technology students can claim a share of a prestigious, statewide award. The bunk-in program which began as a collaboration with the East Syracuse Fire Department has earned the village a first place award at the New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM).

OCC and East Syracuse teamed up to create the bunk-in program in 1995. It allowed Fire Protection Technology majors to live in the fire department free of charge in exchange for responding to emergency calls.

In commenting on the award NYCOM President Thomas Roach stated, “East Syracuse is to be commended for its desire to improve the village through innovation, partnerships and hard work. This program is of great benefit to East Syracuse and is just one example of how local officials continue to work diligently to enhance their communities and the quality of life for their residents. I would like to congratulate Mayor (Robert) Tackman on this tremendous accomplishment.”

Since the program’s inception it has expanded to several other fire departments throughout Onondaga County. 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.

OCC’s Fire Protection Technology program is coordinated by retired Syracuse firefighter Doug Whittaker. He says the program produces students with a high level of academic and practical understanding of the fire protection field thanks in large part to the instructional staff. “All OCC Public Safety Training instructors are adjuncts and most teach only one course in their field of expertise,” said Whittaker. “Our instructional staff is chosen based on life experiences, knowledge and ability in the content area of the course work each teaches.”

OCC’s Fire Protection Technology program is uniquely qualified to educate the next generation of firefighters. It is the only accredited institution in New York State to offer certification for students who want to be internationally certified as firefighters, fire officers or fire service instructors. The certification is overseen by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. One institution in each of the 50 states is awarded this accreditation. In New York State that college is OCC.

24/7 Hands-On Training

David Scoones is a freshman Fire Protection Technology major at OCC. He's also part of the bunk-in program at Onondaga Hill Fire Department.
David Scoones is a freshman Fire Protection Technology major at OCC. He’s also part of the bunk-in program at Onondaga Hill Fire Department.

When the alarm sounds inside the Onondaga Hill Fire Department (OHFD), OCC is well represented on the trucks that respond to the latest emergency call. The department’s firefighters include 15 former OCC students and six current Fire Protection Technology majors who are part of the bunk-in program. It allows the students to live in the fire department free of charge in exchange for responding to emergency calls. “The bunk-in program is a huge asset to our department,” said OHFD Deputy Chief Joshua Fuller. “Our residents receive enhanced fire protection, students save a significant amount of money and work side-by-side with professionals while receiving valuable hands-on training 24 hours a day.”

Connor Donahue is a 2015 OCC grad who participated in the bunk-in program and is now a firefighter at OHFD.
Connor Donahue is a 2015 OCC grad who participated in the bunk-in program and is now a firefighter at OHFD.

One of those bunk-in students is David Scoones who came to OCC with a strong firefighting background. At age 16 he joined the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, making him the tenth member of his extended family to become a firefighter. Scoones wound up at OCC after one of those extended family members, a cousin with the Liverpool Fire Department, told him about the program. Scoones graduated from Clinton High School in June 2015 and two months later was bunking-in at OHFD while taking classes. “It’s gone really well. I’m learning basic, hands-on everyday things,” said Scoones.

One of the firefighters Scoones works with at OHFD is Connor Donahue, a May 2015 OCC grad. Donahue came to the College from Hamburg High School (about 15 miles south of Buffalo). He’s a fourth generation firefighter who also took part in the bunk-in program. Donahue spent his freshman year at the Dewitt Fire Department before moving to OHFD for his sophomore year. He decided to stay on after earning his degree. “The bunk-in program showed me what the job was all about,” said Donahue. “It’s very family oriented. You do everything like a team. When the bell rings we all go out right away.”

CROPPED Fire Protection Technology helmetOCC’s Fire Protection Technology program is coordinated by retired Syracuse firefighter Doug Whittaker. He says the program produces students with a high level of academic and practical understanding of the fire protection field thanks in large part to the instructional staff. “All OCC Public Safety Training instructors are adjuncts and most teach only one course in their field of expertise,” said Whittaker. “Our instructional staff is chosen based on life experiences, knowledge and ability in the content area of the course work each teaches.”

OCC’s Fire Protection Technology program is uniquely qualified to educate the next generation of firefighters. It is the only accredited institution in New York State to offer certification for students who want to be internationally certified as firefighters, fire officers or fire service instructors. The certification is overseen by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. One institution in each of the 50 states is awarded this accreditation. In New York State that college is OCC.