Fire science administration degree programs differ from regular fire science programs as they typically include management courses designed to prepare students for administrative positions within a fire service organization. Two-year fire science administration programs train students to respond to fire-related emergencies and to ensure general community compliance with preventive fire codes. Obtaining a bachelor's degree in fire science administration can help a firefighter who already holds an associate's degree move into advanced positions. Both associate and bachelor's degree programs are available online at some institutions.
When looking for a fire science administration program, students may wish to look for programs that offer a Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE)-approved curriculum or prepare them for industry certification, such as The National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer designation. Many programs prefer applicants to have prior experience working in fire and/or emergency services, but it's not always required.
Associate of Science in Fire Science Administration
Students learn to extinguish fires, investigate arson cases, handle hazardous materials and analyze building structures. Associate's degree programs in this field are often interdisciplinary in structure. Accordingly, students may take courses in leadership and management techniques or study criminal justice in order to supplement core requirements related to arson investigation. An applicant to an associate's degree program must typically have a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Coursework in this field is typically designed to give students an analytical understanding of fire prevention strategies and codes in addition to practical training in appropriate responses to specific emergencies. Topics may include:
- Fire administration and human resources
- Fire prevention and alarm systems
- Combustion and characteristics of fire
- Construction elements and fire code enforcement
- Firefighter safety and survival
- Hydraulics and water supplies
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Bachelor of Science in Fire Science Administration
These four-year programs generally cover advanced topics in fire prevention and response techniques, along with broader issues, such as public relations between fire departments and communities, political and legal foundations of fire service, personnel management and community-based safety initiatives. Most bachelor's degree programs in this field require students to complete an internship at an approved fire department or fire service agency. A high school diploma or GED is typically a prerequisite for entering a program. An associate's degree may also be required.
Coursework in these programs can give firefighters advanced training in emergency response as well as the interpersonal skills for managing a fire department. Some bachelor's degree programs also integrate topics in engineering. Common topics include:
- Company supervision
- Leadership strategies
- Legal issues in fire science
- Managing fire scenes
Popular Career Options
With an associate's degree in fire science administration, graduates are qualified to pursue opportunities as firefighters or other emergency responders. Potential job titles include:
- Fire safety specialist
- Industrial safety analyst
- Insurance investigator
- Safety equipment sales representative
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), firefighters are expected to see a 5% growth in employment from 2014-2024. Growth in urban populations, along with the conversion of many volunteer firefighter positions into paid positions, is expected to contribute to this growth rate. In May 2015, the BLS stated that the median annual wage for all firefighters was $46,870, with most firefighters being employed by local governments at that time.
Continuing Education and Certification Info
Most fire departments require their firefighters to be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Larger urban departments often require additional paramedic certification. Firefighters who work for municipal departments usually must pass written, physical and drug testing examinations.
Advanced training for firefighters is available through the U.S. National Fire Academy. Many states have their own training and certification programs, which in some cases may be mandatory.
A student who complete an associate's or bachelor's program in fire science administration may use that training to enhance a firefighting career. However, it's important to keep in mind that firefighters typically only need a high school diploma in order to enter firefighter training academies. Firefighters may require additional certification and training to work in the field.