Without Joliet Junior College, Morris resident Josh Henschen wouldn’t be living his dream.
Henschen, who attended JJC from 2010 until 2012, is a firefighter at the Morris Fire Protection District, and has been with the department since last November. He said the college guided him in the right direction as he obtained his fire science degree.
“I had a plan and JJC helped me to follow and complete that plan,” he said. “JJC has guided me to where I am today.”
Henschen first became interested in firefighting during high school, when he was enrolled in a fire science based Grundy Area Vocational Center (GAVC) program.
Because he enjoyed the introductory program, Henschen decided to pursue a fire science degree at JJC.
“JJC was a good fit for me for multiple reasons,” he said. “As far as Illinois goes, there are very few colleges that offer degrees in fire science. Also, the opportunity to stay home, close to my family, was a factor, as well as affordability.”
Some of Henschen’s favorite classes at JJC were “Fire Arson Investigation (FSCI 221),” and “Firefighting Tactics and Strategy (FSCI 104 and 204).”
In “Fire Arson Investigation,” Henschen learned about fire scene examination, investigation of an incident, fire protection technology, and sketching a fire scene.
To Henschen, this was a side of firefighting he didn’t know much about before taking the class.
In “Tactics,” Henschen found out what the job was like from an officer’s point of view. He learned about fire control, pre-fire planning, special extinguishing, operations and more.
“I learned a lot through the fire science program at JJC,” Henschen said. “It gave me a lot of useful knowledge for my current job. The instructors there are great, too. They have real world experience working in the field, which helped me learn by listening to their stories. It also didn’t hurt having instructors like Professor Stonich and Professor Thomas, who made the class interesting and incorporated real life scenarios.”
One of the most important things Henschen took away from his time at JJC was the real life experience his professors brought to the classroom.
Now that he’s a professional, Henschen advises fire science students to take their classes seriously.
“The more you put into the classes, the more you get out,” he said.
He thinks JJC is not only a great school for fire science, but also for students looking to get a quality education without spending a fortune.
“Attending a community college allows you to save money you can use in the future when you graduate,” Henschen said, adding that many students may not even have to apply for loans.
Henschen enjoys his job with the Morris Fire Protection District, and has goals of gaining as much experience as he can. In the future, he would like to find permanent full-time employment.
“I can’t answer for certain everything it takes to be a firefighter because I am still new to the game,” Henschen said. “But from what I can tell so far, you need to put in a lot of time and effort, you must be respectful, trustworthy, intelligent, quick to act, and proficient in what you are expected to do.”
To learn more about the fire science program at JJC, visit: http://www.jjc.edu/academics/divisions/nursing-allied-health/emergency-services/Pages/fire-science-info.aspx