Working firefighters who are ready to advance to leadership positions are good candidates to earn an online bachelor's degree in fire science. Individuals considering a career as a firefighter can also benefit from this degree, but it exceeds the entry-level requirements of the vast majority of fire departments.
Classes can be completed entirely online. However, a residency is typically required each year that gives students the chance to practice their fire skills with supervisors over the course of several days.
Since the bachelor's degree program is usually meant for current firefighters, some programs require an associate's degree or past experience as a firefighter. Programs may also focus on fire administration. These bachelor's degree programs can lead to advanced positions as a fire inspector, fire investigator or fire captain.
Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science
An online bachelor's degree program in fire science explores the theory and practice of fighting and preventing fires, as well as administering fire service organizations. Students learn policy planning and integration, human and material resource management, the legal framework supporting fire services and applications of specialized fire equipment. Enrollment in an online fire science bachelor's degree program requires a high school diploma or an associate's degree if it's a transfer program. Some such programs also require applicants to have worked as a firefighter.
Information and Requirements
Course material for the fire science program is designed to be accessible day and night for the scheduling convenience of working professionals. All assignments and exams are obtained and submitted online. All student-instructor interactions are conducted through online forums, e-mail or via telephone. A transfer bachelor's degree is typically earned in two years, whereas a full bachelor's degree program can generally be completed in four years.
Students need a personal computer, word processing software and Internet access to participate in an online program. Most schools recommend a broadband DSL or cable Internet connection.
Online bachelor's degree programs usually include a general education component. General education courses may be based in the arts, humanities, social sciences and mathematics.
This course examines the physics of combustion, flame speed and smoke movement. Fire modeling and building codes are also among the topics discussed.
Students learn to organize an investigation, analyze the causes of fire and detect evidence of arson. Course content also examines the motivations and psychology of arsonists.
The factors that contribute to fire risk and strategies to reduce risk are the primary focus of this course. Topics explored include safety inspection, research and planning.
Hazardous Materials Management
This course surveys the government agencies that regulate hazardous materials and the regulatory landscape they form. Students consider such topics as policy implementation, emergency information systems and public education.
An online bachelor's degree in fire science prepares graduates to become fire inspectors, fire investigators, or advance into leadership positions in fire departments and related service agencies. Many fire departments require candidates for senior level administrative positions, such as assistant chief, deputy chief or fire chief, to have a bachelor's degree in fire science or public administration. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of firefighters will grow 5% from 2014-2024, with the employment rate of fire inspectors increasing by 6% during this same period. In May 2015, the BLS reported a median salary of $46,870 for firefighters.
Continuing Education Information
A few schools offer master's degree programs in fire science for professionals who want to study the topic in even greater depth. Fire science master's degree programs are not presently available online.
Online bachelor's degree programs in fire science are designed to prepare working firefighters for leading roles, like those of fire captains. Students in these programs learn about relevant policy, law and human resources in firefighting, along with theories in fire prevention and investigation.