Despite 31 years of experience as a firefighter, Brian Dempsey (SCPS ’08) says he couldn’t have applied for his current role as fire chief in Seaside, Calif., without a college degree. “The skills that I gained—critical thinking, writing, communication and collaboration—made a tremendous difference in my ability to function in a chief’s position,” he says.
Dempsey joined the Rolling Meadows (Ill.) Fire Department in 1979 and was promoted several times but couldn’t advance further without a college degree. After he graduated from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, he became deputy chief and then fire chief.
As a fire chief, he rarely goes on calls. Instead, he works with the city council and city manager, writes grant requests for new equipment and makes sure day-to-day operations run smoothly. “I still get to fulfill the mission, which is making sure we send out highly trained firefighters with excellent equipment and excellent vehicles,” he says. “All they have to think about is being ready to respond to their next call. I take a lot of pride in that.”
This article was republished from DePaul Magazine. Click here to visit the magazine's website.