Fire Fighting Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

While no formal education is required to apply for a fire fighter position, fire departments do offer extensive training to employees. Earning a certificate or degree in fire science or technology can provide students with an edge over the competition and prepare them for management or command positions in fire services.

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How to Select a Fire Fighting School

When selecting a fire fighting school, students should be clear about their career and educational goals. There are several options for individuals wanting to enter the fire fighting profession or already working in the fire services industry. Programs are available at the certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree and master's degree level.

Certificate

A certificate program may help students start their careers in the fire fighting profession or current fire fighting employees obtain a promotion. Certificates are available in fire science, wildland fire control and arson investigation. Graduates of a certificate program learn about the fundamentals of fire behavior, fire safety and prevention, rescue tactics and equipment education.

Associate's Degree

An associate's degree helps prepare students for entry into fire service and for management and command positions, such as a fire administrator, arson investigator or safety director. Schools offer Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Science or Associate of Art degrees in fire science, fire technology, fire officer, fire investigation, fire prevention and wildland fire management. Courses vary by program, but generally include fire behavior, fire prevention, rescue practices, hazardous materials, hydraulics, building construction and codes, emergency services and fire protection systems. Students also must complete several general education requirements in mathematics, English, science and humanities.

Bachelor's Degrees

Students can also earn a bachelor's degree in fire science technology or fire protection systems. Courses in these programs include fire science, emergency scene operations, risk management, fire investigation, fire chemistry and physics, hazardous materials, fire protection and control, industrial fire and special hazards control. Students also study multi-agency command, catastrophic rescue, community disaster management and emergency medical services management.

Master's Degrees

A master's degree in fire science prepares students for leadership roles in the public and private sectors of fire protection services. Students investigate the chemistry of fires and explosions, strategic fire service planning, public safety management, public fire protection, arson analysis, terrorism, fire and building codes and fire scene reconstruction.

Additional Considerations

Additional things to consider when selecting a fire fighting school are course prerequisites, training staff and training equipment. Some programs require that students be of a certain age or have EMT training before enrolling. Some schools have state of the art equipment and 'burn buildings' for training, while others may depend on the local fire department.

Largest Schools by Student Enrollment

College/University Student Population Institution Type
Miami Dade College 57,222 4-year, primarily associate's, Public
University of Florida 51,474 4-year, Public
Houston Community College 48,169 2-year, Public
Northern Virginia Community College 42,663 2-year, Public
Lone Star College System 41,345 2-year, Public
College of Southern Nevada 40,310 4-year, primarily associate's, Public
Riverside Community College 36,146 2-year, Public
Austin Community College District 35,798 2-year, Public
City College of San Francisco 34,868 2-year, Public
American River College 34,610 2-year, Public
Pima Community College 34,136 2-year, Public
East Los Angeles College 34,065 2-year, Public
Santa Ana College 33,916 2-year, Public
Mt San Antonio College 30,026 2-year, Public
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus 29,617 4-year, Public
El Camino Community College District 27,098 2-year, Public
Long Beach City College 26,927 2-year, Public
Tidewater Community College 26,898 2-year, Public
Palomar College 26,805 2-year, Public
Pasadena City College 26,713 2-year, Public
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