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Mercer Paves the Way for Alum's Path to a Career Serving
His Community


For Alum Joe Flynn ’05 (A.A.S. Fire Science Technology), Mercer proved to be an asset to his career before he even graduated from high school.  When Flynn was a senior at Nottingham High School, he enrolled in the Career Prep Program in Fire Science Technology/EMT at MCCC, in partnership with Mercer County Technical Schools.

While Flynn had aspirations to become an electrician when he was younger, with encouragement from a friend he became a volunteer firefighter at the Enterprise Volunteer Fire Company in Hamilton when he was 16, and decided this was the path he wanted to take long term.

The Fire Science courses Flynn took at Mercer, which are offered both in the afternoon and at night, give high school seniors the opportunity to get a jump start on their college education. By the end of his senior year Flynn was able to earn his NJ State Firefighter I Certificate.

Mercer Alum Joe Flynn '05 is hard at work extricating the driver from an armored vehicle that collided with an 18-wheeler on the New Jersey Turnpike. Flynn works full time for Hamilton Fire District #9 as a firefighter/EMT, and is also a volunteer captain at the Lawrenceville Fire Company.

Encouraged by his initial success, he went on to enroll in Mercer’s associate degree program.

MCCC’s Fire Science program provides opportunities for professional and volunteer fire service personnel to advance their knowledge and skills by attending classes part time so they can continue working, typically taking three years to earn a degree.  It provides graduates with the ancillary knowledge in fire prevention and safety to advance into supervisory and management level positions.

Flynn excelled in Mercer’s program, earning Dean’s List and graduating with his associate degree in May 2005.  He recalled Bob Hedden as one of his favorite instructors while studying at Mercer.  “He was great with mixing real life experience with book work,” he said.  “He was able to show us how everything we were learning could be used in real life situations.”

Now a Lawrenceville resident, Flynn has found many ways to serve his community with his Fire Science background.  He works full time for Hamilton Fire District #9 as a firefighter/EMT, and is also a volunteer captain at the Lawrenceville Fire Company.  “It’s exciting.  Every day is different,” he said, adding that the job gives him a great sense of pride for his community.

In Hamilton, Flynn typically responds to 10-15 calls per week, with another 4-5 calls in his volunteer position in Lawrenceville.  He also serves as the communication officer for the New Jersey EMS Task Force.
One of Flynn’s more recent rescues involved a piece of construction equipment that fell into a ditch with the driver still inside.  “It took a lot of the different training I’ve had in the past to make this rescue happen,” said Flynn, recalling how he and his fellow firefighters had to lower one man down on a rope from a crane to rescue the trapped driver.

He was also called to help out in Bayville after Hurricane Sandy.  His team supplemented the fire department there by answering calls for dangerous and dangling wires, and unstable buildings.  They also provided neighborhood safety by going door to door and reminding residents using generators to keep their homes well ventilated.  “It was rewarding to help out my fellow firefighters in their time of need,” he said. 

Flynn recommends Mercer to those interested in the field.  “It’s a local college with instructors who live locally and can offer a lot of insight that you wouldn’t have elsewhere,” he said, adding that anyone with an interest in technical work and a passion to serve his or her community should consider becoming part of an emergency response team.

“Starting out at Mercer can take you so many places,” said Flynn, recalling many of his fellow students who have gone on to prestigious four-year schools after starting their education at Mercer.

This spring, Flynn is looking to continue his Fire Science education by enrolling in the bachelor’s program at Columbia Southern University, a fully online university.

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