Fire science programs in Alabama are commonly offered at the undergraduate certificate level, though a couple associate's degree programs are also available. Certificate programs range from 16-27 credit hours, and many schools allow students to transfer credit earned in a certificate program toward an associate degree. Some programs are restricted to firefighters who have already completed fire academy training. Additionally, students may need to be CPR certified before enrolling in the program.
Chattahoochee Valley Community College
Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phoenix City offers a certificate program in fire science that trains students in the fire emergency response skills necessary for obtaining employment in the field. Courses cover hazardous materials response, legalities of fire service, and fire service administration. Practical skills taught include rolling hoses, using ropes, and tying knots. Students who elect to take a set of emergency medical technician courses are eligible to take the national EMT certification exam upon graduation.
Credits earned in the certificate program can be applied to the school's Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program in fire science, which is designed for both individuals seeking to start a career in fire science as well as current firefighters who desire career advancement. The AAS requires 69 credits and includes classes like fire suppression, CPR, first aid, and building construction; a total of 24 credits of elective classes are also required.
Lawson State Community College - Birmingham
Lawson State Community College in Birmingham offers a 27-credit certificate in fire science technology. Students can pick from two course tracks: fire service or in-field firefighters. All students must take fire combat and hazard awareness courses. The fire service track includes seven classes that explore fire terminology, fire chemistry, fire suppression, and fire extinguishment. The in-field firefighting option includes four fire officer classes, as well as training in the legalities of fire science. The subject matter in the fire officer classes covers basic duties of leading a firefighting team as well as specialized work in upper management, human resources, and employee relations.
Northwest-Shoals Community College
Northwest-Shoals Community College in Muscle Shoals offers both an associate's degree program and a short certificate program in fire science. The Associate in Science degree program in fire science takes two years to complete and includes general education coursework and fire science courses. Topical courses include introduction to fire science, building construction principles, fire combat strategy, and fire investigation. It prepares students to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in fire science. The fire sciences short-term certificate program requires 16 credit hours to complete and includes the same topical courses in fire science as required by the associate's degree program.
Firefighters typically must be certified as EMTs at the basic level, and some are certified paramedics, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Optional professional certifications are available for firefighters, fire inspectors, and fire investigators. The Alabama Fire College (an organization that trains firefighters in the state) has about 40 different types of fire science certifications. One community college in Alabama also has many professional fire certification courses. This article examines the seven public or private non-profit schools in Alabama offering fire science training.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Fire Science Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015 - 2016)|
|Chattahoochee Valley Community College||2-year, public; midsize suburb|| Fire science short certificate program;
Associate's degree program in fire science
| $4,380 in-state;
|Lawson State Community College - Birmingham||2-year, public; midsize city||Fire science short certificate program|| $4,320 in-state;
|Northwest-Shoals Community College||2-year, public; small city|| Fire science/fire science management short-term certificate program;
associate's degree program in fire science/fire science management
| $4,291 in-state;
Source: *NCES College Navigator