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What is Fire Science?
Fire science is the area of study concerned with all aspects of fire including protection, prevention, investigation, and behavior. The field of fire science blends science with engineering principles to analyze and understand the causes of fire, progression of fires, fire prevention methodologies, and effects of fire on the natural & built environment. The primary areas of specialization within fire science include:
- Fire Safety
- Fire Prevention
- Hazardous Materials
- Fire Behavior
- Fire Investigation
Fire science is often associated with the area of study firefighters pursue prior to entering a fire department. Though many regions require only a high school education, higher levels of education in this field allow for diversification in job opportunities within a given department. Firefighters are responsible for putting out fires and rescuing individuals that may be contained in buildings or locations that are dangerous and possibly deadly at great personal risk.
Top Fire Science Degrees
There are a number of degree options for those considering a future in fire science. In fact, there are online degree programs in fire science through a graduate degree in fire science to consider.
To help you better understand each degree program and its unique components, we have put together a summary of each below. You can access school information simply by requesting information from the accredited colleges and universities listed on this resource page.
Online Degrees in Fire Science
Distance learning or online degree programs are the fastest growing segment in higher education with projections to continue in that direction. Online degrees offer the same quality curricular design with unique benefits not found in a traditional classroom setting.
For example, online degrees offer students flexibility and access to log-on and study course materials at any given time plus quality curriculum provided by a regionally or nationally accredited school.
Online learning also offers students the ability to pace course work in a manner that allows for students to work school into an existing schedule versus the traditional classroom approach. Learn more about online college degree programs by visiting the schools below or automated matching portal for online degrees.
Certificate Programs in Fire Science
An undergraduate certificate in fire science is a concentrated program designed to help students understand the fundamental elements of fire science from an accredited school.
Certificate programs are often niched down to focus on a particular aspect of fire science, while degree programs offer a greater breadth of curriculum.
Examples of undergraduate certificates include: fire investigation & analysis, principles of fire, emergency services, fire protection, code enforcement & fire prevention, fire incident command systems, and terrorist incident management. Additional information about certificate programs can be found below from accredited colleges and universities.
Associate Degrees in Fire Science
An online associate degree in fire science can be conferred as an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS). Associate degrees are 2-year programs for full-time students and include a number of general education courses like philosophy, English, and math along with core courses.
The core curriculum in a fire science degree will vary from school to school but will likely include classes such as principles of fire services, essentials of emergency services, principles of safety & survival, fire behavior & combustion, fire prevention & building construction, and fire prevention systems.
Bachelor Degrees in Fire Science
The on-site or online bachelor’s degree in fire science is a 4-year program for full-time students that is most frequently conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Liberal arts classes and core curriculum are more in-depth and provide students with additional knowledge and skills during the program.
Core classes may include such courses as advanced: combustion, fire prevention, applications in fire research, emergency services administration, legal foundations of fire protection, political aspects of fire protection, community risk mitigation, fire service personnel management, and fire protection systems.
Master’s Degrees in Fire Science
A master’s degree in fire science is conferred as a Master of Science (MS) as a stand-alone degree or a Master of Arts (MA) when coupled with a leadership or organizational development degree.
The master’s program will typically be a 2-3 year commitment for full-time students depending on the program and student course load. A master’s degree in fire science deepens scientific knowledge in the field and helps to grow leadership skills.
Core curricular examples include: leadership development, thriving in a learning organization, leading complex change, strategic management, crisis communication, ethics, public policy, leadership development, fire executive’s role in risk reduction, emergency management, and executive leadership in fire science.
Fire Science Colleges and Required Classes
Individuals typically receive an education in fire science through schools that offer it as a postsecondary certificate or degree. Some schools offer bachelor level education, though this is comparatively rare.
Individuals enrolled in a fire science degree will: 1) learn about fire, 2) how fires are started, 3) various types of fires, 4) how to combat fires, 5) how to handle fires in different settings, and 6) other location-specific trade skills. Individuals armed with this education are able to apply to the fire department, and assuming physical standards are met, will begin their career. A curriculum in fire science may include:
- Fire Prevention
- Geography & GIS Mapping
- Strategy and Tactics
- Hazardous Materials
- Fire Protection Hydraulics
Individuals will generally seek out school or community colleges that offer a fire science program. Individuals should ensure that the education offered is current and relevant.
Connection to local fire departments is also a plus, as it ensures that it meets the standards set forth by the specific department or area. Schools may also have additional resources, that allow for practical experimentation, and if so should also factor into a final decision.
Employment for Fire Scientists
Individuals who complete their education in fire science will continue their physical training through the fire department. Fire departments require individuals to meet both physical and mental conditions in order to qualify.
Once accepted, firefighters go through a probationary period, followed by permanent assignment to a house, particularly in larger cities where many houses are required to provide coverage. Job growth should remain steady as the potential for fires to break out is a constant.
Top Fire Science Careers
For those thinking about earning a degree in fire science, it is important to think about the results of earning a degree. The net results of earning a degree include skill development, knowledge transfer, and employability in your field of choice. Below you will find a list of top fire science career options gathered from surveys and government sources from across the country.
- Fire Investigators
- Fire Chief
- Criminal Justice
- Fire Inspectors
- Forensic Science Technicians
- Battalion Chief
- Police Officers
- Forensic Scientists
- Emergency Management Directors
- Private Investigators
List of Fire Science Associations
- Association for Fire Ecology
- Fire Management Today
- Tall Timbers Research Station
- Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
- Fire Learning Network
- International Association of Wildland Fire
- Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES)
- International Association For Fire Safety Science
- Fire Research Institute
- Fire Science Resource Guide