Anna Maria College Fire Science Program Recognizes 20th Year, 25 Massachusetts Fire Chiefs

As Anna Maria College’s Fire Science Program enters its 20th year and prepares to honor Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the college is pleased to recognize 25 alumni of the Fire Science Program who are serving as Fire Chiefs in cities and towns across Massachusetts.

Recognizing this important milestone, leaders at the College are reflecting on the Fire Science program’s history, growth, mission and future.

“Anna Maria attracts service-minded students, and we work to cultivate their desire to serve through education, campus events and hands-on experience,” said Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle. “We are extremely proud of our fire science program and the many leaders who have exceled in it throughout the Northeast. The passion of our faculty, partners, alumni and students to strive for excellence in this field is a tremendous benefit to communities throughout the region.”

“Students graduating from Anna Maria College with fire science degrees build a liberal arts foundation that helps them better understand the communities they may serve,” said James Carritte, Director of the Fire Science and Emergency Programs, who is a former fire chief for the City of Lynn, Massachusetts. “Many also gain valuable experience working as firefighters or EMTs during their time at Anna Maria. Some of our students become certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) during their time at the College and begin working as EMTs with local fire departments of private ambulance services. Other students also obtain their Firefighter I and II certifications and begin working as firefighters with the Paxton Fire Department or other local fire departments.”
Anna Maria College was the first four-year institution in the country to offer courses approved by the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) network, which was established by the U.S. Fire Administration to promote higher education in the industry and reduce loss of life and property from fire and other hazards.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more in Anna Maria’s Fire Science program,” said Kolin Matthews, a 2016 graduate of the Fire Science Program who is now working as a Tactical Team Support at FireIce Solutions. “The program provided opportunities for learning both inside the classroom as well as practical, real-world applications. The professors have vast experience within the Fire and Emergency Service profession and an insurmountable amount of relationships within the industry, which are critical in connecting students with internships, practical experiences and career opportunities. It is without a doubt that Anna Maria’s Fire Science program prepared me and all of its students to enter the Fire and Emergency Services profession as knowledgeable and well-versed individuals who will one day make a major impact on the industry.”
Among many opportunities to connect with professionals in the Fire and Emergency Services industry, Matthews attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, at which Anna Maria College was among only three colleges in the nation to volunteer. FDIC is the world’s largest annual training conference for firefighters throughout the world, which typically has more than 25,000 attendees.
Starting in the early years of its fire science program offering, Anna Maria College has worked closely with the Town of Paxton Fire Department to build the College’s curriculum and collaborate on implementation. Within the past three years, students studying fire science at Anna Maria College have completed internships with municipal fire departments in Auburn, Bellingham, Leominster, Lunenburg, Nantucket, Northampton, Paxton, Rutland, and Sterling, in the New Hampshire towns of Gilford, Hudson, and Nashua, and with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services in Stow, MA.

“Our communities win when we have dedicated professionals entering the field with a vast amount of knowledge and training,” said Paxton Fire Chief Jay J. Conte. “We have seen first-hand the energy that Anna Maria College students bring to their studies and then to their careers. The College’s focus on serving the public attracts service-minded students and builds on their passion for service – these are the kinds of professionals we want in our communities.”
Currently 83 students are enrolled in fire science at Anna Maria College, including those taking part in an online curriculum that draws on the expertise of professionals across the country, as well as those completing a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Fire Science.
In an effort to make a bachelor’s degree in fire science and other select public service careers more affordable, Anna Maria College announced a partnership with Quinsigamond Community College earlier this year. Called the H.E.A.R.T. Initiative, the two colleges have formed an articulation agreement for students studying criminal justice, fire science, human services or social work, allowing students to achieve a four-year degree in the chosen field of study for a total of $40,000.
“The H.E.A.R.T. Initiative is an important step for ensuring that those passionate about pursuing and exceling in fire science and other public service careers can do so affordably,” Retelle said. “We want to open doors for those passionate about helping others.”
A list of Anna Maria College alumni now serving as fire chiefs throughout Massachusetts is below.
Anna Maria College is a private, co-educational institution founded in 1946 by the Sisters of Saint Anne. With an annual enrollment of 1,500 students, the College prides itself on providing a values-based, service-focused liberal arts education. AMC has grown to offer a variety of undergraduate majors, as well as many graduate and certificate programs, both on-ground and online.  The small student-faculty ratio allows for a highly personalized learning experience, while the modest class and campus size allow for optimal student involvement. The College offers 13 Division III NCAA athletic programs for men and women. AMC’s campus is conveniently located just minutes away from Worcester, MA on 192 acres in Paxton.
Massachusetts fire chiefs that Anna Maria College is proud to call our alumni:
Abington – John Nuttall
Auburn – Stephen Coleman, Jr.
Barnstable – Robert Crosby
Belmont – David Frizzell
Danvers – Kevin Farrell
Dudley – Dean Kochanowski (AA Board member)
Eastham – Glenn Olson
Easthampton – David Mottor
Falmouth – Mark Sullivan
Freetown – Gary Silvia
Haverhill – Alan DeNaro
Littleton – A. Steele McCurdy, III (acting chief)
Lynnfield – Thomas Bogart
Milford – John Touhey
Northbridge – Gary Nestor
Oxford – Sheri Bemis
Shrewsbury – James Vuona
Southwick – Richard Anderson
Spencer – Robert Parsons
Stoneham – Joseph Rolli
Templeton – Thomas Smith
Upton – Aaron Goodale
Ware – Thomas Coulombe
Westhampton – Christopher Norris
Worcester – Gerard Dio (retired)

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