HomeMoorestown News‘A win win for everybody’

‘A win win for everybody’

Students benefit from fire department, Rowan partnership

Special to The Sun: Matt Voza was the first Rowan College at Burlington County student to benefit from the collaboration between the college and the Moorestown fire department for a program that offers young volunteers tuition discounts and credits.

The Moorestown Fire Department and Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) have partnered for a program to benefit students looking for tuition discounts and college credits.

The collaboration includes a tuition discount program – up to 10 percent – for RCBC students who volunteer eight hours a week in Moorestown. Students who volunteer 16 hours a week may be eligible for up to $1,500 per semester, and those who obtain a Firefighter 1 designation and go on to volunteer will get seven credits from the college.

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To be considered for the program, students need to be at least 18, hold a Firefighter I Division of Fire Safety certification from the state, be declared physically fit and pass a background check. The program is open to Rowan students of all majors.

“They’re essentially on call,” said Training Officer Bart Santaspirt. “We call it a duty crew. They’re in the firehouse, they’re issued equipment, they’ve got all their training and certifications. And as long as there’s no fire calls, they’re free to spend their time how they want.”

Student volunteers also help with maintenance and putting together training guides.

“Mostly, their responsibility in my eyes is to get their school work done, and secondly, to jump on the trucks when the pager goes off,” Santaspirt noted. “We’ve had good people come through the doors for this program. They’ve been very motivated, very easy to work with, amicable – and it benefits everybody.”

The first Rowan student to utilize the program was Matt Voza, volunteer firefighter with the Burlington Township Fire Department. Voza was in the process of becoming Firefighter I certified through his hometown fire company when he learned about the volunteer program. At the time, it was a few months shy of launching, and Voza was the first to inquire and join. 

He described how both the Moorestown and Burlington Township fire departments solve problems differently, but are equally effective.

“They have different ways of tackling the same problem,” Voza said of the Moorestown department. “I was able to take some of it back to my own department and show, ‘Hey, why don’t we try this way, and see if any of it is useful?’”

“It’s a great opportunity to both give back to the community and get time on the truck, but also it benefits you by being able to give you a discount with your schooling,” Voza pointed out. 

“It can just open your eyes to different things and show you different ways of operating, and it gets you to go with the flow of it … You get to develop a lot out of it.”

Students are expected to schedule their eight hours (two, four-hour days or one, eight-hour day each week) during the day and participate in department training. The Moorestown fire department and Rowan are seeking students interested in becoming certified as a Firefighter I or somebody who is already certified, or in the process. 

“This program allows for us to have these firefighters sitting in our firehouse studying, and we allow them all the time in the world to study,” said Chris Chesner, fire district administrator for the Moorestown department. “If they want to help out around the station, they’re more than welcome to be there when the bell drops, and they can get on the trucks and help us.”

“If you’re someone coming out of high school and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about going to college. I kind of want to give back to the community somehow,’ this is a great way to do that,” Santaspirt remarked.

“It’s win win for everybody: The student gives back, the student has some financial assistance and we provide better services to the residents.”

For more information on the program, visit https://www.moorestownfire.org


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