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CCAC FireVEST scholarship program graduates honored by Allegheny County

photo of graduate wearing shirt and tie PITTSBURGH—Allegheny County has issued proclamations honoring recent graduates of the Community College of Allegheny County FireVEST scholarship program. The seven CCAC program graduates are being recognized for their academic achievements and their commitment to serve as volunteer firefighters in their respective communities for the next five years. 

A partnership between CCAC, the County Executive and the Allegheny County Fire Academy, the FireVEST scholarship program provides scholarships to residents of Allegheny County who are either current volunteers or who join a volunteer fire department in Allegheny County. Individuals can join the program and receive a full scholarship to CCAC in exchange for a five-year service commitment as a volunteer firefighter within Allegheny County. Since January 2009, more than 422 Allegheny County volunteer firefighters representing 151 out of 192 (79%) of Allegheny County volunteer fire departments have participated in this recruitment and retention program, whose purpose is to help keep Allegheny County’s volunteer fire companies staffed, well-trained and ready to respond. 

The new CCAC FireVEST graduates are: 

  • Jordan Brennan, North Hampton VFD
  • Kari Burnham, Library VFD
  • Steven Maszkiewicz, Cherry City VFC
  • Evan Orowetz, Penn Hills VFD #225 (Thad Stevens VFD)
  • Rebecca Pritchard Lalor, Bellevue VFD
  • Nicole Schluep, West Deer VFC #3
  • Ryan Sweeny, Berkeley Hills, VFD. 

The graduates majored in Electrical Distribution Technology, Fire Science Administration, Criminal Justice & Criminology, Paramedic and Nursing. Scholarship recipients can choose any CCAC degree program.

CCAC graduate Evan Orowetz, who majored in Fire Science, is currently the Fire Safety Specialist for Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the FireVEST program as a way to obtain a quality education while also continuing to serve his community. Orowetz plans to remain at CMU to engage in all aspects of fire protection and emergency preparedness while earning a bachelor’s in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati, where he was able to transfer as a junior. 

“The FireVEST scholarship made it possible for me to continue my own professional development and served as a means to continue my commitment to my volunteer fire department,” said Orowetz. “This program allowed me to obtain a degree in Fire Science at no cost, which has provided me a strong foundation to build upon in the areas of fire protection and life safety.”

FireVEST 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 FireVEST program are available on CCAC’s website at ccac.edu, search keyword “FireVEST,” or by contacting the Allegheny County Fire Academy at 412.931.3158, ext. 5. Applications for the 2021 spring semester must be postmarked by November 15, and applications for the 2021 fall term must be postmarked by May 15.

If awarded a scholarship, the recipient must meet the following obligations:

  • Serve as a volunteer firefighter for five years in Allegheny County;
  • Maintain an acceptable level of service as monitored by his or her fire department;
  • Complete required courses at the Allegheny County Fire Academy and a course in first aid and CPR;
  • Obtain Firefighter I Certification through the Allegheny County Fire Academy;
  • Maintain a minimum scholarship program cumulative grade point average of 2.00 for the duration of his or her studies; and
  • Repay a portion of the scholarship if service or academic requirements are not met.

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.

For additional information on the FireVEST program, contact the Allegheny County Fire Academy at 412.931.3158, ext. 5 or firevest@alleghenycounty.us.

Photo: CCAC FireVEST graduate Evan Orowetz.