Mendoza School of Business

Student by day, firefighter by night

Published: February 1, 2006 / Author: Mendoza College

A Notre Dame student is spending his junior and senior year fighting fires, in addition to getting a degree.

The twist? Twenty-one-year-old Brian St. Claire actually lives at Clay Fire Station Number One.

“I’m a junior at Notre Dame, a finance major,” said Brian. 

Although Brian still has more than a year to complete his degree, he’s already a professional. “That’s actually my graduating class,” he says, pointing to a picture posted on his dorm room wall.

This Notre Dame student has studied firefighting with the Clay Fire Department since October 2004.
Now that he’s certified, Brian can live in his own dorm-like digs at the fire station, rent-free.

“It’s really different than any other college student I think. I started living here in August. A lot of times, we’ll go on a call for 20 minutes to a half hour,” says Brian.

Captain Brian Kazmierzak, who is the training officer at the Clay Fire Department, says Brian is no different than any of the other firefighters at the station. “There’s really no difference between what the career guys do and what Brian does, living in the fire station.  He has the exact same training; he’s a firefighter, an EMT,” he explains.

A student by day and firefighter by night, this superman of sort’s works at least 10, 12 hour shifts every month.

“I run out in the middle of the night and go on a fire call or medical call or something. Probably the most memorable thing was actually going to my first fire, the excitement of hopping on the engine and going there and actually being there, on a fire,” says Brian.

“It gives us an extra person on the fire truck each night. For him, it gives him a little bit of education and real life experience,” says Captain Kazmierzak.

The Clay Fire Department normally has only one or two live-in spots open a year, which includes more than 300 hours of training.

That’s in addition to the classes Brian is taking in college. So, it’s a huge commitment.

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Topics: Mendoza