Being at the right place at the right time can change your life… as it did for 2014 Waldorf graduate Stephen Irr of Yuma, Ariz.
Irr was attending Waldorf to get a bachelor’s degree in fire science administration when fate smiled.
“I started the process with the hopes of being ready for promotion within my organization in three to five years,” he explained. “Many departments around the country are raising the education requirements for chief officers.
“As it turned out, my department had some unexpected retirements that opened up the fire chief’s position just as I was finishing my fire science administration degree.”
With the degree completion in August 2014, Irr immediately became eligible to apply, which he did. He said his degree and coursework “prepared me with the knowledge to present myself well in the interview.”
Soon after, Irr was chosen as the fire chief for the City of Yuma Fire Department! He now manages a staff of one assistant and five battalion chiefs that lead 125 employees. All serve a community of 93,000 residents and with six fire stations that run 13,000 calls annually.
Irr said he owes much of his success to his Waldorf, which he was attracted to because “they had the program I was looking for, but what sold me was the customer service I received. I had some bad experiences with other colleges not responding to my questions. The staff at Waldorf was very responsive to my questions and helped me every step of the way.”
His attraction to the field of fire service began at an early age. “I have always been drawn to public service and especially public safety. When I became old enough to work, I began to work as a lifeguard,” he said.
A life-changing moment soon arrived when “I did CPR on a 3-year-old when I was 16. That kid lived and I ended up being his Little League coach when he was 9 years old.”
After that, Irr was hooked and became an EMT and started learning about becoming a firefighter. He took test to become a Yuma firefighter in 1986. He was hired and soon after he graduated in the first paramedic class held in Yuma.
Throughout his education with Waldorf, Irr said he learned a great deal and that knowledge contributes to his success today.
“The courses I took through Waldorf College has allowed me to have a foundation to build on and has allowed me to speak to other professionals in a competent, knowledgeable and professional manner,” he added.
He definitely is in the right place today to do more for his fellow man.