Arizona’s dry conditions create the need for qualified firefighters to help fight and prevent fires. With approximately 245 fire stations in the state and vast areas of desert and forest land, the Grand Canyon State offers a wide variety of career options in firefighting, fire inspection, emergency medical services and other fire science-related fields.
With a projected growth rate of only seven percent nationwide from 2012 to 2022, fire science is a highly competitive field. There are about 7,570 firefighters employed in the state of Arizona. Job opportunities and salary can vary by region, but, in general, here is a look at annual wages for three fire science occupations in Arizona:
|Arizona Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$42,410||$60,530||$80,710|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$26,360||$44,740||$66,110|
Arizona has a range of fire science programs—from Yuma in the southwestern corner of the state to the Phoenix-metro area and the pine forests of Flagstaff. Those who are looking to be a part of the fire science community can complete a certificate program or earn a master’s degree depending on their career aspirations and experience. Future firefighters can boost their career potential through postsecondary education, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and fire inspectors and investigators often hold a college degree.
Certificate or associate degree programs introduce the history of fire science and begin physical training. These entry-level programs help to prepare students for a job as a professional firefighter and provide an understanding of fire hazards and issues in the field. A bachelor’s degree in fire science or a related field gives students who might already be working in the field additional background and training. These graduates may go on to work at the supervisory level in fire or emergency management.
There are fire science programs at colleges across Arizona, giving prospective students a variety of schools from which to choose. Below are the colleges that feature degree or certificate programs in fire science and related fields.
|DEGREE LEVEL||STATE||SCHOOL NAME||PROGRAM NAME|
|Associate||Arizona||Arizona Western College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Central Arizona College||Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician|
|Associate||Arizona||Chandler/Gilbert Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Cochise College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Coconino Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Estrella Mountain Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Glendale Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Mesa Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Mohave Community College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arizona||Northland Pioneer College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
Don't wait to get your EMT certificate. Here in Arizona you will need to have your EMT prior to being hired and we see a lot of candidates who are unable to go through the hiring process because they haven't enrolled in an EMT program. Also, work on your interview skills. Everything, for the most part, is pass/fail, written test, physical agility, etc. Interviewing is a skill that most of us need a lot of practice with, and here in the Valley of Arizona, you will need to have a good interview to move through the process and get hired.
Promotional processes now have educational requirements at all levels. Whether testing for Engineer, Captain, or Battalion Chief, some form of college level classes will be required. Begin taking fire science classes while you are testing for a firefighter position. College fire science classes are a great way for candidates to network and at the same time get an early start on their career with their education.
One thing that makes firefighting in Arizona unique is our weather. Our temperatures start to climb at the end of April and take us through almost October every year, with June, July, and August being brutal months to work in turn-out gear. Rehab Sector here in Arizona is something that probably differentiates us from other departments around the country. Work cycles need to be closely monitored in our summer months, and closely watching our firefighters for signs/symptoms of heat exhaustion need to be a priority for sector officers and the incident commander.
Not all graduates of fire science programs go on to be firefighters. With this certificate program, students gain expertise in the ecology of fires.
Program Name: Fire Ecology and Management certificate
Program Description: This hybrid program is an opportunity for students across the state to take advantage of Northern Arizona University’s School of Forestry resources. While most coursework is completed online, students visit campus during the program for vital hands-on experience. Students learn about forest ecology and the biogeochemical processes of ecosystems. Students who wish to pursue a career in fire prevention or to assist in recovery efforts after the devastation of a fire could earn this certificate.
For certificate programs of this type, students complete the program requirements in addition to their traditional bachelor’s degree. Other NAU certificates examine related topics such as the human dimensions of forest management, international forestry and conservation, or forest health and ecological restoration.
For further information: http://nau.edu/CEFNS/Forestry/Degrees/Certificates/
An associate degree in fire science can be an effective starting point for a career in fire science, and credits may be transferable to a four-year college.
Program Name: Fire Science Technology Associate in Applied Science
Program Description: Students who plan on a career as a professional firefighter can explore this associate degree program at Glendale Community College, part of the public safety program. At GCC, students can pursue fire safety and fire academy certificates if they meet prerequisites such as EMT and Hazmat certification as well as the CPAT physical ability test. Students can observe live demonstrations by trained instructors while learning about the roles and functions of fire departments and fire personnel. The program stresses physical fitness and also allows students to explore other careers in field.
For further information: http://www.gc.maricopa.edu/fsc/2007_Spring_fire_science_aas.htm
Online learning is a viable option in many fire science programs, allowing students to attend classes from anywhere with an Internet connection. Aspiring firefighters submit assignments via email and other online portals and view lectures and reading materials through Skype and Blackboard. Classes are often asynchronous, meaning students can complete the requirements when it’s convenient for them. Due to the physical nature of fire science, students may need to visit campus from time to time during the program. Some programs may partner with other schools or fire departments, allowing students to work directly with fire science professionals to complete some requirements and provide the added benefit of real-world experience. Online colleges offer fully web-based and hybrid programs in fire science or fire administration at undergraduate and graduate levels.