‘You can get there!' Man makes push to become firefighter despite age-related hurdles

Marcel Cuffy decided in 2020 to chase his dream of becoming a firefighter in North Andover, Massachusetts, even though he's past the age limit to take the firefighter exam

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Age is just a number. At least, that's what Marcel Cuffy feels.

In 2020, Cuffy decided to pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter in North Andover, Massachusetts, despite a big hurdle: In that town, you have to be 31 or younger on the day you take the firefighter exam.



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"It had always been a desire, but the pathway to get there seemed a bit too difficult," Cuffy said.

It all started with an EMT course he was taking back then. His instructor, the North Andover EMS coordinator, re-sparked his passion of becoming a firefighter.

"He felt like I could do it, and I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to make an attempt and go ahead and do it,'" he said. "I started the process, and here we are."

But that process to get the age limit waived was complicated. Cuffy said it took almost a year.

"It was like jumping through hoops," he said. "The first process was to get a petition signed by the local residents to bring before the select board to then start the process of getting the age waiver sent to the House and Senate. They have to pass it to then be eligible for the civil services."

North Andover Fire Chief John Weir says Cuffy is the fourth firefighter that has been hired over the age limit in the last 10 years in the department.

The chief sent a message to those interested in becoming firefighters but think their time has run out.

"I would never discourage anybody from pursuing a dream or passion that they have especially if they think they will be successful in that career," Weir said.

Cuffy emphasized that he couldn't have made it this far without everyone's support, adding that sometimes in order to accomplish your goals, you have to take the road less traveled.

"You can get there! I encourage you to try and work hard to get there," he said.

Cuffy has one more week of training at the department before heading to the firefighter academy. He will be on probation with the department until May of 2024.

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