Training in fire prevention could be a good option for people who are interested in fire safety and fire science, but not necessarily in becoming front-line firefighters. Schools offer programs in fire prevention at both the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. Online programs are available.
An associate's degree program instructs students in fire prevention planning techniques as well as in the use of fire detection equipment. Coursework centers around an introduction to fire science, building codes and fire investigation procedures. Graduates might become entry-level fire investigators or fire safety specialists.
Bachelor's degree programs in fire science may include some of the same introductory courses for students who are new to this field of study. They may also feature advanced fire research components as well as managerial and administrative coursework. Graduates of such programs may pursue professional certifications through the National Fire Academy.
Associate's Degree in Fire Prevention
Earning a degree in fire prevention might improve a candidate's employment prospects in this competitive field, where demand for educated workers is increasing. An associate's degree program in fire prevention, which typically can be completed in two years, provides fundamental training in fire safety, fire suppression and current approaches to minimizing the potential for fire. Students learn about hazards of firefighting, operational characteristics of detection equipment, clues that reveal the sources or causes of fires and prevention planning. Some schools offer their programs as a fire science associate's degree with a fire prevention emphasis. A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential is the minimum requirement for enrollment in an associate's degree program. Schools might administer placement tests to new students to assess their need for developmental coursework.
Liberals arts courses in mathematics and the natural and social sciences frequently are part of an associate's degree program in fire prevention. These programs also might cover some topics across two or more levels of courses. Possible classes include the following:
- Fire science introduction
- Prevention fundamentals
- Protection and suppression systems
- Building structures and building codes
- Fire investigation fundamentals
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Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science with a Prevention Emphasis
A bachelor's degree program in fire science with a prevention emphasis explores theories and concepts in the containment, management and prevention of fire. Coursework for new students covers the same introductory material as an associate's degree program, while upper-division materials address organizational, administrative and managerial issues in fire safety and advanced topics in fire risk reduction. Students also learn to conduct and apply fire safety research. Programs may be available online. Bachelor's degree students normally complete their studies in four years. New students enrolling in a bachelor's degree program need a high school diploma or GED. Transfer students must have earned a certificate or associate's degree in fire science or a related subject.
A bachelor's degree program typically has general education requirements, which are likely to include courses in composition, mathematics, the humanities and social sciences. The following may be among courses related to fire prevention:
- Management and organization of fire prevention
- Fire chemistry
- Fire prevention research applications
- Fire dynamics
- Fire analysis and investigation
Popular Career Options
Local and state governments and industrial companies are among the potential employers for people who earn fire prevention degrees. Positions open to associate's degree holders might include the following:
- Fire inspector
- Fire investigator
- Fire safety specialist
- Fire training instructor
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in fire science with a fire prevention emphasis are qualified for positions as fire inspectors, fire investigators and fire prevention specialists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 5% growth in employment of fire inspectors and investigators over the years 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that the median annual earnings of fire inspectors and investigators were $56,730 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a fire prevention associate's degree program might be able to apply their credits toward a bachelor's degree in fire science or fire protection. A number of schools offer transfer programs to facilitate the process.
In some cases, completing the requirements for a fire prevention or fire science bachelor's degree also qualifies graduates for National Fire Academy (NFA) certification. The NFA offers a certificate of completion for those who meet minimum course requirements and a certificate of achievement for those who finish an expanded course load and maintain a 3.5 or better grade point average.
Individuals seeking a career in fire prevention such as a fire inspector or fire safety specialist can complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Those in the associate's program learn the fundamentals of fire science and prevention, while bachelor's students learn about containment and management of fires in addition to prevention.