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Fire Science Degrees: What You Learn

Nov 26, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Fighting fires is a dangerous job—but it’s also essential in every community. Firefighters play an important role in protecting people and property from fire. While some firefighters work on a volunteer basis, others are professionals—and a career in the field requires specialized training. Here are a few things you can expect to learn in a fire science degree program.

How to control different types of fires

There are several different types of fires, and what works for one won’t work for another. In fire science programs, students learn how to manage electrical fires, chemical fires, and other types of fires that threaten homes and businesses. In addition, students learn tactics of fighting forest fires as well as home and building fires. 

See Also: Online Fire Science Degrees

Proper use and maintenance of firefighting tools

There are many tools used in fighting fires, from hoses and extinguishers to protective gear and vehicles. Students in a firefighting program will learn how to use these tools, which are appropriate for different types of fires, and how to keep them in working order.

Fire spread patterns

To fight fires effectively, you’ll need to understand how fires behave in different circumstances—and what can cause them to spread quickly. Students learn how to predict fire behavior and incorporate that knowledge into developing sound techniques for fighting fires in different locations and situations.

Rescue skills

Students will learn how to safely rescue people and animals in dangerous situations, as well as challenging rescue techniques—such as rescue from high buildings and extremely dangerous blazes. Students also learn the basics of first aid and how to deal with burn and smoke inhalation-related injuries.

Hazardous materials removal

There are plenty of hazardous chemicals and other materials that can be extremely dangerous—especially if not properly used and stored. In addition, many materials commonly used in building construction—such as asbestos—can become much more dangerous in the presence of fire. Part of a firefighter’s job often includes managing and removing hazardous materials.

Fire investigations

Many fires are accidents—but some are started deliberately. Firefighters often serve as consultants in investigating how a blaze started—and identifying instances of deliberate vandalism and potential insurance fraud. A firefighting program should teach you how to investigate the site of a fire to determine its cause.

Fire prevention

Firefighters often work in the community to teach people about preventing fires—and can sometimes serve as a consultant to businesses as well. Your firefighting degree program should teach you the basics of fire prevention, and give you the expertise you need to serve as an ambassador for better fire prevention in your community

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Fire Science Degree Program

What types of degrees are available?

You don’t need an advanced degree to get a job as a firefighter—significant volunteer experience will sometimes suffice. However, earning an Associate’s in Fire Science will give you an advantage over others and demonstrate your commitment. A Bachelor’s degree can qualify you for leadership positions in the field.

Is there hands-on training?

It is possible to earn your fire science degree online—and the industry is fairly open to those with online degrees. However, you’ll need to be sure there’s an in-person training component, as this job is quite physical and many of the skills and expertise you need must be practiced in a hands-on setting.

How up-to-date is the curriculum?

Today’s firefighters should be receiving training in topics such as natural disaster recovery and cleanup of the latest hazardous materials. In addition, fire investigation techniques are constantly changing—and your program should be up on the latest advances in these areas.

How extensive is the program?

Some schools only offer courses in basic firefighting skills. Others offer a more complete curriculum that includes emergency medical training and response, as well as other areas that may be valuable to employers.

Firefighting has a fairly low education requirement, making it an easy field to get into—but that means competition for positions can be high. An Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in fire science from a traditional or accredited online college [] can put you ahead of other applicants—and help you land a career fighting fires in your community.



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