FSSA Educational Foundation 2022-2023 Scholarship Recipients

Each year, the Foundation provides financial support to outstanding young students connected with the fire protection industry to help them meet their ever-rising cost of a college education. The FSSA Educational Foundation is pleased to announce the following recipients of scholarships for 2022 - 2023:

  • $4,000 scholarship in the name of Jim Boyer - Jessica Gallo, University of Maryland
  • $3,000 scholarship in the name of Chuck Hooper - Elliot Paisner, University of Maryland
  • $3,000 scholarship in the name of Bernie Bischoff - Jacob Witlin, University of Maryland
  • $2,500 scholarship - Will Keeton, Eastern Kentucky University
  • $2,500 scholarship - Andrew Tivadar, University of New Haven
  • $2,500 scholarship - Leonardo Vargos, Eastern Kentucky University

More about our Winners . . .

 $4,000 Scholarship in the name of Jim Boyer 
Jessica Gallo, 
University of Maryland

Jessica Gallo is a current freshman majoring in Fire Protection Engineering at the University of
Maryland. For the past 7 months, Jessica has worked for Fire & Risk Alliance in Rockville, Maryland as a research intern focusing on electric vehicle and battery fires. Additionally, as a rising senior in high school, Jessica was a research intern for the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland where she focused on fires in informal settlements. Her research was published by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers in August 2021, and she continued her research with the Department throughout the school year. She is also a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers Chapter at the University of Maryland and is looking forward to getting involved in other organizations on campus. 

Jessica would like to express her profound appreciation to the Fire Suppression Systems Association and Jim Boyer for recognizing her with this scholarship and for supporting her education. She also would like to extend immense gratitude to Dr. Jim Milke and Dr. Noah Ryder for their mentorship, time, and dedication to supporting her education and her future in Fire Protection Engineering. Thank you very much!

$3,000 Scholarship in the name of Chuck Hooper
Elliot Paisner, University of Maryland

Elliot M. Paisner II, from Atlanta Georgia, is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor OA member majoring in Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Paisner is a 4th-generation volunteer firefighter serving and volunteering with the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad in Prince Georges County. He is a student member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers Greater Atlanta and UMD chapters, having served on the GAC Conference Committee in 2021. Paisner has an interest in fire service history. He has authored articles for the National Fire Heritage Center on pioneers in fire protection, as well as a column for the Society for the Preservation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus of America titled "Tales from the Hose Cart Barn".

After completing his B.S. in Fire Protection Engineering, Paisner would like to pursue his M.S. also in Fire Protection Engineering. Following the completion of his graduate studies, he would like to enter the field of fire protection with an open heart and mind providing fire protection to groups that oftentimes do not have a voice in this world, such as people with intellectual disabilities. Paisner intends to give back to the fire protection community, in the same way, that others did for him. Paisner would especially like to thank the countless numbers of mentors, advisors, and advocates that he has had thus far in his fire protection journey for their time and dedication to shaping him into who he is as well as his parents and family who have supported his journey into fire protection. Most especially, Paisner wishes to thank the Fire Suppression Systems Association as without scholarships and support like this, it would be difficult for him to pursue his dreams.

$3,000 Scholarship in the name of Bernie Bischoff
Jacob Witlin, University of Maryland

Jacob Witlin, from Ellicott City, MD, is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is currently enrolled at the A. James Clark School of Engineering majoring in Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) with a minor in Nuclear Engineering and also minoring in Global Terrorism.

Over the summer Jacob interned for the DOD in the Installations and Logistics Department working on projects that utilized his skillset and training in Fire Suppression Systems. This coming year Jacob is looking forward to serving as an FPE Ambassador working to recruit high school and community college students into the FPE Department at UMD. Jacob also actively participates with Engineers Without Borders, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and UMD Club Rugby. Jacob enjoys working with others on teams where everyone contributes and has opportunity to learn from each other. Jacob would like to thank the FSSA for recognizing him with the scholarship in the name of Bernie Bischoff and for the continued support of his academic pursuits. Without scholarships and support like this, it would be difficult to complete everything he has set forth to accomplish while in school.

$2,500 Scholarship 
Will Keeton, Eastern Kentucky University

Hey everyone, my name is Will Keeton. I am a current Junior enrolled in the Fire Protection Safety Engineering Technology program at Eastern Kentucky University. I have been working part-time for the past few years as a fire sprinkler fitter in the great state of Tennessee. Since being introduced to this field, I have become very passionate about fire protection and the power that it has to simply save lives. My future goals are to graduate with a degree in Fire Protection Safety Engineering Technology and start to further my education and work my way up the ladder in hopes of someday becoming a Fire Protection Engineer. I just know that the future needs people who are willing to make the world a safer place and that is what I am willing to do.

In my free time, I really enjoy being in the outdoors.  Whether I am hunting, fishing, or working on the farm it doesn’t matter, just as long as I'm outside. I am also very competitive, so I am always down to play any sport at any time.

I would like to thank the FSSA for recognizing me with this scholarship. It truly helps a lot. This award will help me greatly with my future studies and will help me to succeed in my future endeavors. 


$2,500 Scholarship
Andrew Tividar, University of New Haven

My name is Andrew Tivadar. I am currently a senior at the University of New Haven, majoring in Fire Protection Engineering and minoring in Civil Engineering. I decided to major in Fire Protection Engineering because of the experiences that I have had as a volunteer firefighter. I have been an active volunteer firefighter for nearly five years. Along the way I have earned several certifications from State of Connecticut including Firefighter I, Firefighter II, and Aerial Operator. I was elected to the department’s Board of Directors in January of 2022.

While attending school I also work as a Fire Protection Consultant at SPARC Fire Protection Engineering. In the future I plan to obtain my FE license and eventually my PE license in Fire Protection Engineering. In my free time I enjoy exploring the outdoors and camping. I also enjoy repairing small engines and working on all types of cars and trucks.



 $2,500 Scholarship
Leonardo Vargas, Eastern Kentucky University

Leonardo Vargas is a sophomore Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology major at Eastern Kentucky University. He continues to do well in classes and has recently found an interest in physics. He works part time at the fire extinguisher lab on EKU’s campus. In this position, he is responsible for inspecting and maintaining the fire extinguishers on EKU’s campus along with his coworkers. Additionally, he is the treasurer of EKU’s Society of Fire Protection Engineers chapter. Between work, school, and involvement in a fire engineering organization he stays busy and continues to learn about and enjoy the fire industry. He is very grateful for the FSSA award as it will help him support his continuing years of education.




View Past Recipients