Sal McGowan - Fire Service

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Sal McGowan is a marine mechanic by trade. The Navy veteran and father of three had been working aboard ships since 1996 and as a mechanic for luxury yachts since 2000. 

When the economy went south and his job at the boat repair company ended, he decided to pursue his dream to become a firefighter.

"I told my wife, 'I'm going to be a firefighter.' I had heavy equipment repair experience, mechanic experience. I needed a job that was going to be in demand-I couldn't rely on the economy to support my family," said Sal.

So in 2010, he applied for assistance to help pay for tuition, books and supplies, spoke with representatives at the college, and began his journey toward becoming a firefighter.

"I was 33 years old at the time, and I had one more life change in me. Go big or go home," he said. "I put in my paperwork, said my prayers, and everything got approved." Sal began the program fall quarter.

In addition to the full-time program, Sal takes evening Emergency Medical Technician courses, and volunteers at the North Olympia Fire and Rescue District 7 to apply the knowledge and skills he learns in the program.

"If it wasn't for my wife supporting me, I don't think I'd be able to accomplish this," said Sal. "I leave the house at 6:30 a.m., and sometimes won't get home until midnight. On the days I volunteer, I won't see my kids for five days."

Sal's dedication, drive and hard work will pay off when he graduates winter 2012 with an associate of technology degree, and his EMT, Firefighter I, II, Wildland and Emergency Vehicle Incident Prevention certifications.