COM fire academy grad sets record
Posted on: June 17, 2013
From left, academy director Danny McLerran; Justin Napoli; Stan Kozlowski, instructor and Port of Houston Fire Department senior captain; and Sam Scott, instructor and Missouri City Fire Department lieutenant.
At the spring graduation ceremony, Justin Napoli, of League City, became the first student in the College of the Mainland Fire Academy’s history to win simultaneously the Top Rung Award, President’s Award and Academic Honors Award. He earned the Top Rung Award for excelling in skills and leadership, the President’s Award for serving as class president and the Academic Honors Award for earning the highest average in the class.
“He’s a class leader,” said academy director Danny McLerran. “He’s an exceptional student, completing commission-required skills and physical skills.”
Napoli excelled in the classroom and on the training field and helped motivate and coordinate classroom activities with other students as class president.
“I just told myself I wasn’t going to slack off,” said Napoli.
After working as a paramedic for seven years, Napoli was hired by the Texas City Fire Department, which arranged for his training at COM. The rigorous academy prepared him for challenges on the job.
“The academy put being in good shape back in my grasp,” he said. “They gave me all the tools I need.”
Now working as firefighter for the department, he feels he has found his calling.
“Knowing this is the job I was meant to do was rewarding,” Napoli said. “No other job I’ve had has this camaraderie. I feel like I’m part of a brotherhood.”
In addition, COM graduate Andrew Kraft, of Dickinson, was selected by the instructors to receive the Fire Academy Instructors Award for outstanding performance and professionalism. The volunteer with the Dickinson Fire Department came to COM because of its reputation for thorough training.
“I heard it was supposed to be the best fire academy in the area, and I’d been through some training with the instructors. They were all good,” he said.
Napoli, Kraft and the 9 other spring graduates passed the state certification exam, continuing the 100 percent pass rate the COM Academy has held for the last three years. In addition, COM Fire Academy students Mathew Fuentes of the Houston Fire Department and Thomas Williams of the Texas City Fire Department passed the Fire Officer I and II certification exams.
Andrew Kraft receives the COM Fire Academy Instructors Award. From left, academy director Danny McLerran; Andrew Kraft; Stan Kozlowski, instructor and Port of Houston Fire Department senior captain; and Sam Scott, instructor and Missouri City Fire Department lieutenant.