Fire Safety Education Programs, Classes and Training Overview

Fire safety education is an important component of firefighter training. Those interested in fire safety education might consider a program in fire science technology, which can be found in the form of certificate programs and undergraduate degrees.

Essential Information

There are many programs in fire science technology that are offered by many community colleges and technical schools and may include hands-on training opportunities. These programs can be studied at the certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree levels, as well as in the form of professional certificates.

For certificate programs and undergraduate degrees, students will generally be required to have a high school diploma or GED and a minimum score on competency exams. Professional certificate programs tend to only accept trained professionals in lieu of formal education requirements.

Some programs and courses can be found online. Those enrolled learn about firefighting techniques and legal regulations related to the profession. Degree programs expand on this knowledge and prepare individuals for more advanced positions in the profession. Over the course of bachelor's degree programs, students can choose concentrations in the field such as fire investigation or service management. Depending on the program, students can also qualify for certification opportunities through the National Fire Association.

Fire Science Technology Certificate

These programs train individuals for careers in firefighting at the basic level. Students learn fire safety and the fundamental concepts necessary to become safe and productive firefighters. Certificate courses generally last several months, and teach skills in fire prevention, safety and firefighting methodologies. Course topics generally include:

  • Fire science
  • Fire codes
  • Fire department administration
  • Fire prevention
  • Fire suppression techniques

Associate's Degree in Fire Science Technology

Associate's degrees in this discipline typically require two years of full-time study. Similar to certificate programs, this curriculum provides the fundamental skills needed to become a firefighter, but goes into greater detail about how these disasters occur. In addition, this program includes general education requirements such as speech communications and math. Typical fire safety courses might include:

  • Fire science
  • Fire causes
  • Hazardous materials
  • Firefighting tactics
  • Firefighting equipment

Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science Technology

This 4-year program not only trains individuals for entry into fire services, it also prepares them for advancement to higher ranking positions within the field. In addition to fundamental skills, students learn about different methods of management and government regulations. They may also take fire science classes focusing on psychology or different specializations within the profession. Such coursework might include:

  • Fire administration
  • Fire and human behavior
  • Fire personnel management
  • Fire investigation
  • Legal codes and ordinances
  • Hazardous materials

Professional Certificates in Fire Safety

Some schools offer certificate programs designed to enhance the skills of trained fire fighters and fire safety personnel. For example, programs in fire investigation or fire inspection are designed to aid in career advancement in these specific areas. Courses might include:

  • Fire codes and standards
  • Blueprint reading
  • Fire protection systems
  • Fire chemistry
  • Fire causes

Popular Career Options

Bachelor's degree programs prepare students for roles beyond that of firefighter. Career options might include:

  • Fire safety officer
  • Fire protection specialist
  • Hazardous materials specialist
  • Emergency planner
  • Fire officer
  • Fire chief

Professional certificates might help individual advance to positions such as:

  • Fire officer
  • Fire inspector
  • Fire marshal
  • Fire investigator
  • Fire public information officer

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 5% job growth for firefighters between 2014 and 2024, which is lower than the average for all occupations. Mean annual salaries for firefighters were reported at $49,330 in May 2015.

Additionally, an increasing number of fire departments prefer to hire employees with some college education, according to the BLS. An associate's degree in fire science technology might increase an applicant's chances of landing a job, especially if there is competition for a limited number of positions.

Continuing Education

Those interested in fire safety education and who wish to become firefighters usually complete a training program at their local fire department. Many departments require firefighters to receive emergency medical technician (EMT) certification as well.

Most departments administer exams to firefighters before promoting them to the next level. Continuing education helps prepare firefighters for these exams. Organizations, such as the National Fire Association (NFA), offer opportunities for continued learning.

Fire safety personnel holding a bachelor's degree are eligible for executive fire officer certification from the NFA. Additionally, individuals may consider professional certificate programs as a means to advance their careers.

Regardless of what level of study you choose, a fire safety education course will prepare you for the realities of working with fire in dangerous or unsafe contexts. There are certificates, undergraduate degrees and professional certificates available, all of which will equip graduates with the skills necessary to practice fire safety in a practical and theoretical sense.

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