The Missouri Southern Foundation and the family of late firefighter Steve Fierro have announced the creation of an endowed scholarship in his memory.
The Steve Fierro Endowed Memorial Scholarship Award will be given each year to a graduate of the Fire Academy program at Missouri Southern State University.
Fierro, a Carthage firefighter, died in the line of duty on Feb. 18, 2004, while responding to a restaurant fire in Diamond.
His family originally created a patron scholarship at Missouri Southern in his memory, funding it through efforts such as annual softball and golf tournaments, said Susan Reddy, Fierro’s twin sister. When fire training stopped being offered at MSSU in 2015, the scholarship funding switched to provide assistance to EMT students.
With Missouri Southern and the Joplin Fire Department entering into a new partnership for a fire academy, Reddy said the family felt the timing was right to create a permanent award in Fierro’s name that would benefit those following in his footsteps.
“That’s the whole reason for doing this … it’s something he would do if he’d had the chance,” she said.
The recipient will exemplify characteristics similar to Fierro’s – his dedication, determination, comradery, and a passion for a long-term career in fire service.
“My uncle was a firefighter, and my brother always admired him for that,” said Reddy. “When the opportunity came up for Steve to go to school (for fire training), he went into it full force.
“We want the scholarship to go to someone who has the same kind of heart for a fire career, because that was his passion. He didn’t just do his shift and go home. He helped teach fire safety, he went and fought wildfires in Oregon and other states.”
Fierro, his sister said, would have done well as a politician. A friendly, personable man who was intensely dedicated to his family, he was known to have a smile for anybody. He began his career as a firefighter in Neosho before serving his hometown of Carthage for 10 years.
In addition to his work as a firefighter, he was also an EMT and had a taxidermy business. He loved sharing his knowledge of fire safety, and was also known for visiting the local elementary school each year dressed up in character for Johnny Appleseed Day.
Last year, the Steve Fierro Kids Café was established in his honor at the new YMCA Family Activity Center in Carthage.
“Even 17 years later, people will still come up to me to tell me how much they loved visiting with him,” said Reddy.
The Steve Fierro Endowed Memorial Scholarship Award created in his honor is a fitting way to honor Fierro’s memory and inspire future generations of firefighters.
To contribute to the scholarship, visit the Foundation’s giving page or mail a check payable to the foundation at Missouri Southern Foundation, 3950 E. Newman Road, Joplin, Mo., 64801, with the name of the scholarship in the memo line.
Visit our Emergency Medical Services program page to learn more about course offerings and opportunities.