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MCC's fire science program one of best in the nation

Fermilab Fire Department Lt. Chris Williams teaches ladder safety to trainees during fire science class Saturday at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake. In addition to working at Fermilab in Batavia, Williams also works part-time with the Crystal Lake Fire Department.
Fermilab Fire Department Lt. Chris Williams teaches ladder safety to trainees during fire science class Saturday at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake. In addition to working at Fermilab in Batavia, Williams also works part-time with the Crystal Lake Fire Department.

The McHenry County College fire science program has been recognized as one of the hottest in the country.

McHenry County College rose to the top of more than 900 colleges and universities throughout the country to finish in the top 10 percent of all fire science programs as ranked by www.firescience.org. The ranking accounted for quality of education, affordability and return on investment.

The list showed that graduates from the institutions ranked in the top 90 who become full-time firefighters annually earn five times the cost of one year of school.

Doug Goostree, fire science department chairman and instructor, said earning that recognition on the well-known firefighters website would make McHenry County College known throughout the nation for those looking to get into the field.

“This is something relatively new that firescience.org has been doing, but I think it shows the value and quality of program,” Goostree said. “I think the program was strong when I came here and it’s become even stronger and has developed a very good reputation in Illinois for going the extra mile.”

In the eight years Goostree has been with the department, the program has grown to include about 200 students per semester and graduates 60 certified firefighters each year. One of the biggest strengths, Goostree said, is the fire academy and strong relationships with area fire departments.

He said many colleges do not offer fire academies, and the students’ ability to get hands-on training with ladders, hoses and other equipment used by area departments is invaluable. The focus, he said, is on providing each student with the skills and knowledge they will need for promotion.

“A lot of students are happy with being paid on-call firefighters and that’s fantastic because we have some small departments in the area,” Goostree said. “But we want to give everyone all they need to know to continue moving up in their careers.”

Colleges in the www.firescience.org ratings were judged on data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System and the Carnegie Foundation.

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