Former Revere firefighter Dr. John Moschella left Massachusetts last month to speak about fire science at the Malaysian fire academy, but he said he came back realizing that as much as they had to learn from him, we also have a lot to learn from them.
In a country dotted with huge skyscrapers in its major cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, fire science such as Moschella teaches in American is extremely important to those in Malaysia. It was just such a subject he was invited to talk about, specifically the large and devastating skyscraper fire that occurred in the London a few years ago.
“I was the first American to speak to their academy, which is something,” he said. “It was a really big thing for them, and it was really huge for me too. We have a lot we can learn from them, just as they want to learn from us too.”
Moschella had a 35-year career in the Revere Fire Department before hanging up his helmet and taking on a career in academia. After getting his doctorate in fire science, he taught for a number of years at Anna Maria College in their fire sciences program. He has lectured in several states, and now on the other side of the world.
“I realized they really have their stuff together,” he said. “That’ the bottom line and I felt like we could learn a lot from them. It was amazing that we had an American lecturing to Malaysian fire recruits about a fire in England. It was just an outstanding time.”
The invitation came after he visited the country a few years ago and had a friend arrange a visit. Once at the academy there, he hit it off with the command staff and kept in touch with them. Earlier this year, he was invited to lecture to the Academy about skyscraper fires on building using the new cladding materials.
Moschella said he was offered the opportunity as long as he could get to the country.
It wasn’t a problem, he said.
“It’s about giving back,” he said. “I have something to share. Even talking to my brother and sister firefighters in Malaysia, they learned something. These are two cultures separated by nothing in terms of our profession…You forget that firefighting is in all industrialized countries and most of them have graduate programs now. This is my opportunity to give back.”
Moschella is now an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, and is exploring other opportunities at the moment.