A degree in fire suppression can lead to a career in a variety of industries, including insurance, government and equipment manufacturing. Related degree programs in fire protection engineering technology are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Educational prerequisites exist at each level. For an associate's in Fire Protection Engineering Technology or a Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration, a high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry. For a Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering Technology, a bachelor's degree in engineering is required.
A 2-year associate's degree program is designed to teach installation and maintenance techniques for various fire prevention systems. Graduates might transfer to a similar 4-year bachelor's program.
The aim of the bachelor's-level program is to teach students to investigate the causes of fires and provide fire education. It could also prepare them for managerial duties. Internships are sometimes included. Students of two-year master's programs can customize curricula to focus on their areas of interest. At this level, they could also conduct fire protection research. Online study options could be available to students.
Associate's Degree in Fire Protection Engineering Technology
Degree programs in fire protection engineering technology at the associate's degree level prepare graduates to design, install and maintain fire suppression systems, such as automatic sprinklers, fire alarms and chemical systems. Some schools offer professional degree programs designed for job preparation or the option to transfer credit to a bachelor's degree program.
Students must complete general education coursework, such as communications, mathematics and chemistry, in addition to core coursework in fire safety systems design, installation and maintenance. Students learn to identify, install and manage different fire detection and suppression systems, including sprinkler and chemical systems, alarms and other notification devices. Specific class topics include:
- Fire protection systems
- Building construction
- Suppression system design
- Codes and standards
- Occupational safety methods
- Emergency medical procedures
Bachelor of Science in Fire Protection Administration
Students of fire protection administration bachelor's degree programs learn the managerial skills in fire science and prevention they need to pursue a leadership role within the field. Graduates are prepared to investigate suspicious fires, improve safety for firefighters, educate the community on fire prevention and command firefighting operations. Many fire protection administration programs are 2-year completion programs, requiring an associate's degree with prerequisites and practical training in fire protection systems and emergency medical response.
Fire protection administration students complete didactic coursework and internships in the field. In addition to learning about detection, prevention and suppression systems, students learn how to interact with and contain fire. Resource management and leadership are commonly studied at the bachelor's degree level. Common course topics include:
- Fire behavior
- Incident control procedures
- Arson investigation
- Fire defense planning
- Hazardous and combustible materials
- Building codes
Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering Technology
Students receive thorough training in fire behavior in order to develop systems and techniques used to prevent fires and protect people and property from its effects. Programs of study are customized according to the interests of students. Areas of specialization include flame combustion, risk analysis, flammability, regulatory effectiveness and structural fire protection. Some schools offer the programs through on-campus classrooms, online or in a combination of the two formats. Students can also find dual-degree options that allow them to earn a bachelor's and master's degree in engineering and fire protection simultaneously.
A bachelor's degree in engineering is generally required to enroll in a master's degree program. Undergraduates in another field might need to complete necessary engineering studies prior to admission to the graduate program.
The curriculum within a master's degree program in fire protection engineering technology usually includes core coursework in fire protection systems, risk analysis, fire safety regulations and engineering topics. Elective coursework and research follow a particular concentration and can include instruction in the following areas:
- Fire dynamics
- Protection systems
- Safety codes
- Performance-based design
- Regulatory policy
Popular Career Options
Graduates of an associate's degree program in fire protection engineering and technology could use the training for possible careers in firefighting, safety inspections or fire investigations. Other potential options include:
- Fire protection systems design
- Suppression systems installation
- Equipment sales
- Industrial safety technology
Fire protection administrators perform key organizational and management tasks in both public and private sectors. Specific roles include:
- Fire station chiefs
- Fire prevention specialists
- Arson investigator
- Fire loss insurance claims adjusters
- Arson investigator
Career Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), fire inspector and investigator jobs may grow 5% for the years 2014 through 2024. These workers made a median annual salary of $56,730 in 2015.
To perform public engineering services, fire suppression systems engineers require state licensure. Generally, other fire suppression technicians, administrators and inspectors do not need licensing. Doctoral programs are available for students interested in pursuing further education in fire engineering and technology research. Graduates of doctoral programs can qualify to teach at the university level or conduct independent research.
Fire suppression is not available as a degree, but similar degree paths contain courses relevant to this skill. Graduates of these degree programs can become fire station chiefs and arson investigators, among other related careers.