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Immaculata University Student Firefighters Celebrate International Firefighter Day on the Feast of St. Florian

Firefighter in gear practicing with hose

On Saturday, May 4, firefighters from around the world will be recognized and honored along with their fallen comrades during International Firefighters’ Day, which is also the feast day of St. Florian (the patron saint of all firefighters). Firefighters’ selfless sacrifices and contributions keep their local communities safe are reasons for this day of recognition.

Several Immaculata University students are currently serving their communities as volunteer firefighters. One such student is Daniel Schmid ’25, an emergency planning and management major. As an active member of West Chester’s Fame Fire Department, Schmid spends a lot of time at the station. In fact, he lives there through an agreement known as a Bunker Program. Schmid resides at the firehouse instead of living on campus. In exchange, he drives the fire truck to emergencies when the fire station receives calls at night.

A native of Chalfont, Pennsylvania, Schmid began volunteering at the Chalfont Chemical Fire Engine Company 1 in 2019. After graduating from Immaculata next spring, he plans to continue working in a career related to fire services.

Madison Borkowski

Madison Borkowski ’24

Not all volunteer firefighters seek a professional career in the field. Immaculata’s Madison Borkowski ’24 is an education major with dual certification in Pre-K and Special Education (Pre-K to 4) and a minor in prelaw. However, her dedication to becoming the best firefighter she can be is reflected in her hard work throughout her hundreds of hours of training since she became an active member of the Twin Valley Fire Department in 2021.

After completing her initial training, Borkowski was named the Top Cadet in her class. While conducting her intensive fire training sessions, she was a full-time college student who maintained a 4.0 GPA during her pre-student teaching observations.

Borkowski explained the tiered level of training, which progressively adds certifications in several distinct areas of expertise. She listed a few of the topics covered in her continual training, such as interior fire; fire police and traffic; vehicle rescue; rapid intervention training to save fellow firefighters; fire truck operations/tasks; brush fires and sessions on administrative and leadership roles.

Although no one resides at Twin Valley Fire Department, the volunteer firefighters have developed a close bond and enjoy presenting their newly acquired learning with the other members of the station. Borkowski serves on the recruitment and retention committee to attract additional volunteers. Even after she graduates and enters law school, she plans to continue volunteering as a firefighter.

As we celebrate the newer generation of firefighters, let’s pay tribute to those who have dedicated their careers in the service of their communities.

Firefighter in gear talking to woman and small child

Robert Hedden at the scene of a vehicle accident.

Robert Hedden, who is an adjunct faculty member in the Emergency Planning and Management program at Immaculata, is a chief fire officer designee through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and a retired professional firefighter from the Montgomery Twp. Fire Department. Since childhood, Hedden knew he wanted to become a firefighter and hung around the local firehouse as a young boy. Having attended Catholic schools, he felt an obligation to serve society through his Catholic faith. As he rose through the ranks of his career, he helped others through his various training positions, including serving as a fire suppression instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy and as the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (Local 4890) for over a decade. Since 2016, Hedden has taught emergency planning and management courses and created the curriculum for the Preparedness & Mitigation class.

These three prime examples of firefighters working in the Philadelphia area, are among the 1,057,000 active career, volunteer and paid per-call firefighters in the U.S., according to FEMA’s April 2024 registry.

To honor these million-plus dedicated servants, the date chosen for International Firefighters’ Day was linked to the feast day of St. Florian, the patron saint of all firefighters. According to firefighterday.com,  St. Florian was the first known commander of a firefighting squad in the Roman Empire. He lost his life, as well as those of his colleagues, for protecting the same humane ideas which firefighters all over the world share even today.

Player to Saint Florian for Firefighters

Dear God, through the intercession of our patron, Saint Florian, have mercy on the souls of our comrades who have made the supreme sacrifice in the performance of their duty, and on all who have gone before us after years of faithful discharge of their responsibilities which now rest on ourselves.


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