Online Fire Fighter Schools: How to Choose

While most programs in fire science are on-campus programs, a few schools offer options for completing at least part of a degree online. Keep reading for more information about study options for fire-related careers.

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Options for online fire fighter training are typically limited, though there are several schools with these options, especially in terms of hybrid programs. Learn about some major considerations for this field, such as award level, program types, and some notable schools to help you decide where to attend.

How to Select an Online Fire Fighter Program

Professional online and hybrid programs in fire fighting and related areas offer students the necessary training to pursue a career in fire fighting service, administration, management, and education. Students can choose from programs offered in a combination of online and classroom settings. Students should then select based on award level and program type and focus area.

Award Level

Fire fighters can train on the job; however, most employers prefer to hire fire fighters who have received some professional training or a certificate from a program approved by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). An associate's or bachelor's degree offers students the opportunity to advance to a fire service position in administration, management, prevention, or education.

Program Type & Focus Area

Due to the high level of hands-on training required for fire fighters during emergency response procedures, students interested in online training can enroll in low-residency online (hybrid) programs. The hybrid program combines online instruction with hands-on medical and emergency response training that requires on-campus attendance.

Online programs that don't require students to attend on-location focus on advanced fire science education, prevention, and administration. The fully online programs incorporate a virtual learning experience that includes video lectures, discussions, and demonstrations through online platforms such as Blackboard.

List of Popular Online Fire Fighting Programs

Online Certificate Program in Fire Fighting

This online hybrid program is offered by particular training institutes. It provides students with basic training through a 2-part training process; the first part of the program is delivered fully online, while the second part involves a residency on campus. Each session takes a few weeks and begins by introducing students to proper emergency response protocol.

The latter part of the curriculum focuses on more advanced skills such as implementing an incident management system or fire control method and providing leadership during an emergency. Online interactive exercises and animations, 3-D drawings, charts, detailed guides, and video lectures help prepare students for hands-on training in the residency portion. Students in these programs gain skills in:

  • Equipment use
  • Use of breathing apparatuses
  • Forcible entry procedures
  • Rope and knot preparation

Online Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Program

The 2-year associate's degree program introduces students to basic concepts in fire protection, prevention, and management while also providing them with a core in liberal arts. Students complete humanities, natural science, and history requirements while pursuing an applied science program that includes courses on building construction, fire management, principles of fire behavior, and fire protection. Electives can include:

  • Environmental assessment
  • Human resource management
  • Training and development
  • Fire protection and dynamics

Online Bachelor of Arts in Fire Service Administration Program

The online bachelor's degree program is a public administrative program available to students who have prior service experience or who hold an associate's degree in fire service administration, management, or a related field. Students pursue general training in administrative subjects and can take specialized courses in areas such as the legal aspects of emergency medical response and community fire protection.

Most programs are taught online and don't require on-campus attendance. Instructors track progress by having students complete assignments, participate in virtual discussions, take tests, and sit for a final exam. Topics include:

  • Organization and management
  • Communicating risk reduction
  • Investigative science and mathematics
  • Leadership development

Schools with Online Programs in Fire Fighting

Columbia Southern University offers both an online certificate and Associate of Science degree program in fire science. Both programs are designed for students wanting an introduction into the field or for current professionals hoping to improve their education. They cover basic fire science principles and ways to prevent disaster, as well as investigation techniques and laws related to fire fighting. Certificate programs can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Point Park University offers a fully online bachelor's degree program in public administration with a concentration in fire service administration. Structured to prepare students for leadership positions, the program is partnered with the National Fire Academy, offering unique certification opportunities not found in other degrees. Instructors for these courses have real world experience on the job, allowing for a more thorough and detailed curriculum.

Though your options may be somewhat limited, there are still many good schools offering fully or partially online certificate, associate's, and bachelor's training for fire fighters. Some major considerations for where to attend include the offered programs, online status, and focus area.

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