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Fire Safety

Career Overview

Fire Safety professionals work in the area of emergency management to aid with search and rescue efforts, establish incident command centers, organize disaster prevention and planning procedures, provide emergency medical care support stations, and support and supervise structural collapse and firefighting crisis scenarios. Fire safety professionals routinely provide training to both existing and novice firefighters.

Responsibilities

Fire Safety professionals are responsible for a host of leadership and training aspects in the emergency management services arena. Common duties in this field would include instructing and participating in tactical fire scene exercises and disaster situations. The development of evacuation plans for urban commercial facilities and governmental buildings, such as a school, are tasks which fire safety professionals would be well versed in accomplishing. Managing and maintaining fire department response and equipment systems, and inspecting all personnel and fire suppression gear are major components in the fire safety and prevention professional’s field.

Educational Requirements

Multiple options exist for a student to become an educated and trained fire safety professional. Students have the options of obtaining an Associate, Bachelors, or Masters Degree programs. Most institutions of higher learning permit some of the courses to be taken online, or in the evenings to accommodate adult learners who must work while continuing their education.

Associates Degree – The Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Degree requires 60 credit hours be successfully completed in core fire safety curriculum courses. In addition to the required general courses to earn an Associate Degree, a student in the program must complete technical training in fire prevention, principles of fire behavior, fire protection planning and building aspects in construction, equipment hydraulics and water supply techniques. Students must have a high school diploma or GED to participate in this degree program. Associates of Applied Science in Fire Science Degrees take eighteen months to two years to complete, and are offered at most two year college and technical education training facilities.

Bachelors Degree – A Bachelor of Fire & Safety Engineering encompasses fire-training courses in tactical fire strategies, firefighter safety, leadership and staff management courses, and firefighter principles, foundations, and theory, and practices. Fire Safety students are also expected gain knowledge of the history and progress of fire department services, and the legal duties associated with the responsibilities of providing emergency services. A total of 120 semester hours in the fire management curriculum must be completed in addition to the required general and tier courses at the chosen college. A Bachelor of Fire Science Degree is offered at four-year colleges, and requires three to four years to complete. Many colleges and universities offer credit for the completion of an Associates Degree in the same or related field.

Masters Degree – Students, which hold a Bachelors Degree in a related field, can request admission to the Masters of Science in Executive Fire Service Leadership program. Most, if not all of the required courses are offered online at a host of colleges and universities. The curriculum is focused on courses, which require onsite knowledge of firefighting and fire safety. Courses commonly offered in this type of degree program are related to emergency management strategies and analysis, evaluation of personnel and crisis scenarios, and the development of efficient training and procedures in the fire services. This degree is offered at many four-year colleges, and takes between eighteen months and two years to complete.

Areas of Specialization

Fire Safety professionals can specialize in specific areas of emergency fire service. For example, a fire safety professional could work in an administrative capacity supervising multiple fire departments, or educate new recruits at a training center as an instructor. Below is a sampling of the possible areas of specialization for a fire safety professional.

  • Inspector- Working as an inspector as suspicious fire scenes, and determining the cause of both residential and commercial fires. A fire marshal also works in conjunction law enforcement, prosecuting attorney, and insurance brokerages concerning suspicious fires, and the prosecution of criminal cases related to intentional fires.
  • Instructor- A fire safety professional can also become a trainer or administrator at a fire educational facility. After earning a degree in the field, a fire safety professional could teach recruits the skills required to become either a volunteer or a professional firefighter.

Below are typical job categories and descriptions for fire safety professionals:

  • Fire Services Administrator – Supervise and evaluate various fire safety personnel. Work inside a fire department, or within several departments conducting safety, prevention, and training tasks for all firefighters and emergency medical personnel attached to a given building.
  • Fire Department Officer – An advanced degree in fire safety enhances the opportunity for advancement in a firefighter’s rank, leading to a higher wage when awarded a position as an officer with a department.
  • Risk Management Supervisor – Work with multiple emergency services to train and conduct evaluations related to accident prevention and equipment safety. Duties would also include training and leading hazardous materials, urban search, rescue, and weapons of mass destruction detection crews.
  • Code Inspector – Review and inspect commercial, hospital, and governmental facilities for fire code violations. Conduct scheduled emergency evacuations drills, and develops disaster safety plans and exit routes in each building.
  • Government – Work in a governmental department in an advisory, training, or administrative capacity for agencies such as Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Career Opportunities
Listed below is a sampling of the job titles an individual with a degree in Fire Safety could consider as career possibilities.

  • Fire Chief
  • Fire Marshal
  • Fire Code Inspector
  • Fire Academy Instructor
  • Fire and Safety Director
  • Environmental Health and Safety Manager
  • Fire Safety Officer
  • Fire Safety Consultant
  • Public Safety Officer
  • Fire Safety Engineer
  • City Planner
  • Fire Safety Design Specialist
  • Fire Safety Manager
  • HAZMAT Instructor
  • Urban Search and Rescue Instructor
  • Technical Fire Safety Engineer
  • Fire Protection Engineer
  • Safety Specialist
  • Public Safety Director
  • Fire Sales Specialist
  • Fire Production Manager
  • Regional Safety Specialist

Salary Ranges

According to the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) fire safety professional working in a supervisory position earned $32.42 dollars and hour, or $70,860 annually in 2006. Fire inspectors and investigators earned an average income of $25.50 per hour, or $54,840 on an annual basis. Governmental fire prevention specialists, such as forest fire personnel, earned $15.09 per hour, or $36,400 per year. Firefighters holding a designation as an officer typically earned $21.28, or $45,700 in the most recent year in which statistics are available. Fire Marshals earned $41,190 in 2006, with the 50 percent of recorded workers earning between $29,550 and $54,120. The highest-ranking fire marshals earned $66,140 as of May 2006.

The minimum reported salary for a Fire Chief, according to the BLS is $73,435, with the maximum reported salary averaging $95,271 annually. A fire engineer’s maximum reported pay for the same time period is $56,045. A battalion chief can expect to earn between $62,199 and $78,611 per year.

Professional Organizations

Many professional organizations exist within the fire fighting and emergency services field, to serve personnel with updated state and federal guidelines, continuing education opportunities, and general beneficial information regarding the profession. Listed below are some of the professional organizations, which serve the fire and emergency services field.

FDSO – Fire Department Safety Officers Association -
www.fdsoa.org

NAFI – National Association of Fire Investigators -
www.nafi.org

IAF – International Association of Firefighters -
www.iaff.org