Local firefighter earns award and degree from Gaston College

Michael Chafin earns honors as outstanding Public Safety student ahead of graduation

Michael Chafin, who will graduate from Gaston College with an Associate in Applied Science degree on May 13, is right where he wants to be. At the recent Student Awards Celebration ceremony he was named the Outstanding Public Safety Student for his excellence in the Fire Protection Technology program, and his career has already started. He was hired as a firefighter with the City of Gastonia in 2020 and has been a volunteer with the Agriculture Center Fire Department in Bessemer City since 2019.

Chafin graduated from North Gaston High School in 2018 and entered the Criminal Justice program at Gaston College that fall. After a semester, he switched to an associate in arts program with the intention of transferring to a four-year university after earning his degree. However, he came to realize that his interest in public safety remained and he wanted a career that involved physical work. He ultimately decided to switch to the Fire Protection Technology program to pursue a career as a firefighter.

Since entering that program, Chafin has become a certified firefighter and has obtained other certifications involving rescue operations, apparatus driving, and pump certifications. He continues to work part-time for the Agriculture Center Fire Department, which recognized him as their 2021 Firefighter of the Year.

“During his time at Gaston College, Michael has maintained high academic standards,” said Josh Crisp, Director of the Regional Emergency Services Training Center at Gaston College. “He is an outstanding student and will surely advance rapidly in the ranks of the Fire Department.”

Chafin intends to work toward a Public Safety Administration degree from Gaston College, and still plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future. When asked about his career goals, he replied, “I plan to work 30 years for the Gastonia Fire Department.”

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