Fire Sciences Certificates, Degrees, and Programs
Firefighters do a lot more than just fight fires. In fact, earning an education in Fire Sciences teaches students the basics of, yes, safely and effectively fighting fires, but also ensuring and educating the public on the importance, installation, and maintenance of smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, inspecting buildings are up to code, handling hazardous materials, and even acting as paramedics on scene during an emergency, etc. In fact, Fire Sciences college grads often work as firefighters, but also as fire investigators, fire prevention educators, and fire safety inspectors. Those wishing to move up in the department to roles like fire chief, will require a master’s degree education.
While budding firefighters used to only have a high school diploma to enter the field, today earning an advanced degree in Fire Sciences can give candidates a leg up in this competitive field. Here’s what you’ll learn in a Fire Sciences college program:
- Fire chemistry and physics
- Fire combustion and behavior
- Handling of hazardous materials
- Fire prevention and control
- Fire codes
- Fire law (usually per region or state)
- Emergency rescue procedures
- Fire extinguishing
- Fire defense planning
- Basic emergency medical technician (or EMT) training
Education options for students interested in the field of Fire Sciences may include the following programs. However, keep in mind that if you’re hired by a fire department, you will still need to complete their specified municipal fire department training:
1. Associate fire sciences degree programs
This level of education takes 2-years of full time study to finish and is typically available by enrolling in person or online via a community college. Prerequisites include a high school diploma, and you will learn basic entry-level firefighting.
2. Master’s degree in fire sciences
Most firefighters opt for a master’s degree in fire sciences if they plan to move into a leadership (i.e., director or chief) position within their department. So these programs cater to working firefighters in part time or continuing education formats. Prerequisites include a high school diploma, municipal fire training, and in some cases a bachelor’s degree.
3. Bachelor’s degree in fire sciences
Most bachelor’s degree students have already earned an associate fire science degree and are working as firefighters in the field. Desire for advancement (i.e., fire inspector, fire educator) is typically behind seeking this level of education.
4. Certificates in fire sciences
Many working firefighters earn certificates during their tenure in order to add specific training to their resume (i.e., arson investigator). These can typically be obtained at night or online courses as you work full time, and only take between 9- to 12-months to complete.