Kevin Geidel has big plans for Onondaga Community College's Fire Protection Technology program. For decades it's been highly regarded as the place where the firefighters of tomorrow are trained. He's prepared to maintain that standard and highlight everything else the degree program can do for students. "Fire Protection is an industry. We teach system design, code enforcement, standards, research, product testing, investigations, all those types of things. We're opening people's eyes to what the Fire Protection industry is."
Geidel is beginning his third semester leading the Fire Protection Technology degree program. The Walton, NY native brought a diverse professional background to campus six years ago when he began teaching. He's an Engineer with C&S Companies who at one time designed assembly plants for KIA Motors, is a volunteer with the Liverpool Fire Department, and works part time as a Fire Investigator for Onondaga County.
His 20 years in the fire service and 15 years working as an engineer paid dividends for students last year when he brought a dozen companies to campus who work in the fire protection industry. By the end of their session with students, 14 had jobs lined up. "None of the positions were for firefighters. They were for different areas within the industry like plan reviewers and IT professionals. We're trying to create new opportunities for students."
OCC's Fire Protection Technology degree program has one feature no other program in all of New York State can claim. It is part of the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, a level of accreditation which is recognized globally. It's available to students in the certificate or degree program, along with firefighters and their staffs across New York State.
As Geidel works with current students he's also creating another degree program which will provide a pathway for those who want to continue their education for specialties like engineering, fire service administration, or fire arson explosion investigation.
What does it take to excel in the industry? Geidel says you need to be good at chemistry and math, and be the type of person who seeks answers. "Be curious and always ask questions. 'What's different today than it was yesterday? Why did something overheat today but not yesterday?' It's curiosity and interest that are the driving factors. We can help you do the rest."