Firefighters and fire inspectors and investigators typically hold a postsecondary degree in fire science. Firefighters respond to fire and other emergencies. They control and extinguish fires using hoses and pumps, rescue people who are trapped by a fire, and provide medical treatment to victims at the scene of an emergency. Fire inspectors inspect buildings of all types for fire hazards and to ensure fire codes are being met. Fire investigators investigate, determine, and record the cause of a fire and provide expert testimony in legal proceedings.
Although most jobs in these professions only require a high school diploma or its equivalent, many employers will favor candidates with a two or four-year degree in fire science or a related discipline.
Coursework in a two-year associate degree program in fire science will cover fire safety, fire investigation and inspection, hazardous materials, and fire command and administration. Bachelor’s degree programs in fire science usually offer a more comprehensive curriculum for professional development with courses in organizational management, leadership, policy integration, and the law as it applies to the field of fire service. A growing number of associate and bachelor’s degrees in fire science are available entirely online. Master’s degree programs in fire science prepare graduates for leadership positions as administrators, investigators, or public safety specialists in fire departments, state and federal emergency agencies, and private companies.