Nick Fletcher wants to help others the same way his grandfather did. Charles Collea was a longtime Utica firefighter whose actions made an indelible impression on his grandson. “I learned from him it’s important for everyone to give back to their community, whether it’s as a member of government or working in a soup kitchen. I have chosen to give back by becoming a firefighter,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher is well on his way to achieving his goal. He was selected as the outstanding student in Onondaga’s Fire Protection Technology program prior to commencement in May 2014. Before graduating he already had a job lined up as an Onondaga County Fire Investigator, trying to figure out the cause and origin of fires. “I enjoy helping families, letting them know how a fire started and giving them closure. A fire can be a very traumatic event.”
Fletcher grew up in Sherrill, New York. While in high school at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, he joined the Sherrill-Kenwood Fire Department at the age of 16. He knew he wanted to go to college to learn more about fighting fires and began asking fellow firefighters from various departments for advice. "All the fire departments I spoke with knew about OCC’s fire protection program and spoke highly of it. When I examined what OCC offered I was excited about the things they were doing and wanted to be a part of it.”
While attending Onondaga Fletcher took part in the bunk-in program with the Liverpool Fire Department. He lived in the fire department and went out on emergency calls in exchange for free room and board. “It added a technical aspect no other college in the area could match. It combined hands-on training with a technical education and classroom work.”
Fletcher also took advantage of earning international certifications at Onondaga, the only school in all of New York State to offer them. "The requirements are extremely challenging, but you are more prepared when you complete the program.”
Fletcher will be transferring to Syracuse University, taking advantage of the College’s “2+2 Partnership Agreement.” While continuing to work as a fire investigator, he will major in political science.
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