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Boston FF Pursues Higher (Education) Calling to Help Others | Firehouse


For much of his adult life, Jack Giordano has focused on improving the world—or at least his part of it—especially in the wake of catastrophic events.

The looming shadow of the 9/11 attacks led the 33-year-old to join and serve four years in the Marines. Then another tragedy over a decade later, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, pushed him down a different career path that would allow him to help his community.

“I’ll never forget it. I was at an outside barbecue during the marathon in Boston—and it happened to be the day the bombing took place—and I was only a couple blocks away from it,” Giordano told in a recent interview.

Once he heard what was happening, he raced to the scene to see how he could help. By the time he got there, however, the area was packed with people, and there wasn’t much he could do. But that experience was a revelation of sorts for Giordano as he watched first responders work following the deadly bombing.

“From there on I knew that the Boston Fire Department was something that I wanted to do, and it felt like a calling,” Giordano said.

“It definitely had a huge impact on my career choice,” he added. “I definitely wanted to help during that crisis, and I definitely would have been able to if I had the tools I have now; I would have absolutely been involved.”

Giordano joined the Boston FD soon after those events, but around late 2016 and early 2017 he began feeling a familiar urge, one that was pushing him to expand his job horizons.

“I reached the point in my life where … I wanted to do a little bit more, and I was thinking about long-term careers (in the fire department),” Giordano said.

Cybersecurity and its importance to the fire service began to interest him, and he started thinking about how that type of knowledge and training could help the Boston Fire Department.

“These threats are becoming more, and they’re evolving, and it seems like this is something that’s not going away, and I wanted to work toward maybe implementing some kind of possible cybersecurity job (with the BFD) in the future,” Giordano said.

Giordano had studied business and marketing as an undergraduate, but if he wanted to one day secure a cybersecurity gig, he would need a deeper knowledge of mathematics and programming, and that meant more schoolinga prospect that wasn’t exactly attractive.

“If you would’ve told me when I joined the Boston Fire Department that I was going to get a master’s degree, I probably would’ve laughed at you,” he said. “But something eventually clicked in my head: Why not become the best version of yourself, and that’s constantly what I’m trying to do every single day, to become at least 1% better than yesterday.”

With some direction from his sister, who works at Northeastern University, he soon was pursuing studies in security and resilience at the school. And by 2019, he had earned his first master’s degree.

“Once I got my master’s, I said, ‘Oh God, I can’t believe it. I did it,'” he said. “I set a target, and I did what I needed to do to get to that target.”

That achievement didn’t come easy, though. Juggling his studies along with sometimes grueling shifts as a firefighter had him question whether he should continue.

“I will tell you one thing: Having the stress of being a firefighter, not just the emotional and mental side of it, but the fatigue of it,” Giordano said. “I’m exhausted after doing a 24-hour shift. Whether it was a busy night or it wasn’t that busy, it’s a fight-or-flight response all the time and that does put a wear and tear on you.”

When that fatigue and those doubts would gang up in the back of his mind, Giordano would remember advice others would give about deciding between keeping up with his studies and taking a break from school: Once you break your momentum, it can be hard to regain it, and that semester break can become a year and then five years and then perhaps never.

“It all comes down to being able to multitask,” he said. “Being able to figure out how to balance work, life and school life is something you really have to prioritize and you really have to schedule.”

And that meant sometimes working smarter instead of harder. In order to bone up on his calculus and math skills to help him with his master’s studies, Giordano earned a Frontline Workers Scholarship for courses at, a way he could expand his knowledge with online classes he could fit into an already overloaded schedule. (Applications for’s Frontline Worker Scholarships are still being accepted.)

For most people already in a career, one master’s degree would be enough of an achievement. But remembering the advice about momentum and how it’s easier to maintain than to pick up again, Giordano decided to pursue another master’s degree at Northeastern, this one in computer science.

In what has become a recurring theme in his life, Giordano began his studies in the middle of a major calamity: the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that has made both work at school and the department even more challenging. He will start the bulk of his course work this fall, which means the summer will be about finding balance again between preparing himself for the upcoming semester, clocking in for shifts with the department and trying to enjoy the warm summer months after a year of COVID isolation.

“Your social life takes a pretty big hit, because if it doesn’t, you typically will get behind the things you have to stay on top of,” he said.

By the time he would finish his second degree, Giordano will be 35. He’s already looking ahead at what his future will be like once he earns his second master’s.

“You know, law school is in the back of my mind,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be burned out by the end of this degree. I do know that it is in the back of my mind. I will see where I’m at emotionally and mentally after this.”

Ultimately, Giordano understands the value of furthering his education no matter what his next step is. The private sector is clamoring for people versed in cybersecurity, but Giordano would ideally like to take what he has learned to help his fire department and the Boston community.

He also thinks he can set an example for his fellow firefighters that anyone can accomplish what he has, and that higher education achievements can benefit a person’s community as much as they benefit the student.

“There are always opportunities to help your department,” he said.

This content was originally published here.

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