Fire science associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs can be completed online with the addition of an internship at a fire station. This blended format is required for completion. Students also have the option of completing a certificate program in fire science, which can typically be finished in one year.
Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science
An online fire science degree program is more common at the bachelor's level than other program levels. Some may be degree completion programs designed for students who have already earned their general education credits. In addition to standard fire prevention and protection courses, online students take courses in management, which are designed to prepare them for leadership positions in the field, including fire chief, fire investigator or fire science instructor. Courses at this level include:
- Disaster planning
- Media relations
- Personnel management
- Public administration
- Fire organization, management and prevention
- Community fire risk reduction
- Preventing fire disasters
- Investigating and analyzing fires
- Fire dynamics
- Terrorism incident management
- Hazardous materials management
Associate's Degree in Fire Science
Career training in fire science at the associate's degree level usually takes about two years, though students can take longer by choosing to complete fewer courses per semester. Those interested in pursuing a fire science-related career can already be working for a fire department when pursuing this degree, and some schools may offer course credit for professional experience. Common online courses include:
- Fire protection systems
- Fire prevention
- Fire behavior
- Risk analysis
- Safe building constructions
- Water supply and hydraulics
- Tactics and strategies
- Crisis management
- Leadership methods
Certificate in Fire Science
A fire science undergraduate certificate program usually takes less than a year to complete and typically requires students to take four or five courses. Often credits earned in this career training program can be applied toward completion of a fire science bachelor's degree. Online courses include:
- Hazardous materials
- Hydraulics and fire apparatuses
- Occupational safety for firefighters
- Emergency management
- Fire protection and the law
While simulations are part of an online program, students at all levels must also work at a firehouse as part of an internship experience. Internships are often arranged through the school. Students work a required number of hours, going on actual runs with fire department members while learning the ins and outs of how a fire station operates.
Like with any internship, students must apply and be accepted into the program; in some cases, this could lead to a career upon graduation. Students already working at a firehouse can complete their training hours with their regularly scheduled work hours.
About Online Learning
Coursework time is flexible as long as students meet assignment due dates. Most classes have specific meeting times each week, and students can access lessons before the next class. Online courses are accessed through virtual servers and course management systems, such as Angel or Blackboard, which allow students to view lectures, download and complete assignments and take tests.
In addition, most schools have a live chat option available for interaction with other students and professors. Students learn the responsibilities of fire professionals through video and other formats. Final examinations may need to be completed on campus or at a proctored location.
Degree programs in fire science typically require internships in a firehouse for completion, though fully-online certificate programs do exist. These prepare students for careers in fire prevention and safety.