Lakes Region Community College
Associate in Fire Protection, 1995
For as long as he can remember, Kirk Beattie has wanted to be a firefighter. From a start in a local youth exploration program to his current position as a Fire Chief, Kirk has benefitted from the kind of hands-on experience he found at Lakes Region Community College.
Kirk grew up in Franklin, New Hampshire. His father and grandfather were both military veterans. They were on-call firefighters at the Franklin Fire Department and instilled a work ethic in Kirk that set him up for a public service career as he followed in their footsteps.
“When I was 14 years old, the Franklin Fire Department had an explorer program, which allowed me to learn about the job and how to become a firefighter. I would clean the station and tools after a fire, and I instantly fell in love with this career. I knew it was the direction I wanted to take in life.”
Kirk continued to work in the firefighter explorer program until he was 18 and then joined the Call Force Division, a group of on-call firefighters, which enabled him to earn hands-on firefighting experience. Working in this type of training environment helped set the path for his future.
“When I finished high school, there was a lot of push for people to go to a four-year college, but I already knew what path I wanted to take. There was a great school 20 minutes away from home that had exactly what I wanted to study.”
So, Kirk enrolled in the fire protection program at Lakes Region Community College (LRCC).
“Of course, there are general education credits that are necessary, but I got to learn what I wanted to study, which is a big part of why I enjoyed my time at LRCC.”
Beyond what he learned, Kirk feels the connections he made – both with the faculty and fellow students at LRCC – helped make his career trajectory easier.
“Looking back, I see it now in the relationships I made. The instructors were educated and experienced in their fields and passed that knowledge along to us. I still have connections throughout the state over 26 years later with former classmates. I’m a huge believer that connections can make one’s job easier.”
Kirk earned his associate degree in fire protection from LRCC in 1995 and then graduated from NHTI – Concord’s Community College with a degree in emergency medical services in 1997. He started his post-college career as a full-time firefighter paramedic and continued to climb through the ranks in the department. Years later, he earned his bachelor’s degree in public service management from Granite State College and his master’s degree in public administration from Columbia Southern University.
“My education helped me move up in my career at the Laconia Fire Department. I was promoted to lieutenant, where I was overseeing shifts and then to captain overseeing the station.
Then, in October 2018, I was promoted to fire chief. As the chief, Kirk still goes to fires and emergencies, but his role also focuses on strategizing and planning for the department’s future and determining how it fits within the community.
“LRCC has helped shape the fire services programs across New Hampshire. So many people that went through LRCC’s program are at the top of their fields. It’s a huge distinction to say you started there.”
LRCC’s fire services program is recognized by the United States Fire Administration through the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Program and is currently ranked #4 out of 221 programs in the United States.