Approximately 140 students complete fire science programs every year in Arkansas at one of the state’s three accredited fire science schools. A significant number of these fire science graduates come out of the Arkansas Fire Training Academy at Southern Arkansas University Tech. Although the number of graduating fire science students is relatively low, their job prospects are wide-ranging. In addition to firefighting and fire service administration, potential career opportunities also include inspecting structures for fire safety or analyzing and investigating the causes of fires.
Approximately 2,510 firefighters work in Arkansas, along with 160 forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists, and 510 first-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers.
Compensation can vary based on factors such as location, experience, education and specialized certifications. Below is a glance at what firefighters, fire inspectors and investigators, and forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists earn in Arkansas:
|Arkansas Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$31,180||$46,820||$59,510|
|Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||$27,850||$30,840||$38,250|
Fire science education in Arkansas is limited to certificates and associate degrees. Programs range in focus from fire and emergency response to fire science technology to fire services management. Degree programs explore the knowledge and skills that aspiring fire professionals need to enter the workforce, while also offering preparation for specialized career choices. Two-year programs generally cover the basics of fire and fire prevention, including fire chemistry, fire administration, basic investigation and legal issues surrounding the field of fire prevention. Online studies are not available for fire science but can be found in programs centered on safety and hazardous materials management.
All of the accredited schools in Arkansas provide studies in both fire science and emergency medical services. This setup encourages “career laddering,” which helps to prepare graduates for entry-level occupations, with supplemental knowledge acquired on the job. This career progression allows fire professionals in Arkansas to glean the bulk of their knowledge not at the academic level, but through hands-on experience in the real world.
There are three fire science schools in Arkansas with accreditation from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) and/or the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications.
|DEGREE LEVEL||STATE||SCHOOL NAME||PROGRAM NAME|
|Associate||Arkansas||Black River Technical College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arkansas||NorthWest Arkansas Community College||Fire Services Administration|
|Associate||Arkansas||Southern Arkansas University Tech||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Associate||Arkansas||Southern Arkansas University Tech||Fire Services Administration|
|Award (<1 year)||Arkansas||Southern Arkansas University Tech||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
|Award (<2 years)||Arkansas||Black River Technical College||Fire Science / Fire-fighting|
Stay fit and continue training. Take classes that are relevant to the position you are in or getting ready to go to. I've seen lots of guys take classes when they were a firefighter that is made for Chief Officers and they haven't done the basic training that they need to have for the position they are in now.
Get a fire science degree. There are several good online courses that guys here at our fire department have gone through. Makes the department more professional.
Fayetteville is very hilly. We have to purchase units that can maneuver up and down the hills, yet not be too big that they can't get through our narrow streets. With the University of Arkansas and its 25,000 students, there are many calls that happen due to the students being out of the house for the first time—lots of parties and cooking fires that are caused due to them being on their own for the first time and learning how to do things on their own. We also have lots of trails that we have had to buy utilities vehicles just to access patients that get injured on the trails.
Graduating more than 80 percent of all Arkansas fire science students, the program serves as a resource for the Arkansas Fire Service and related organizations.
Program Name: Arkansas Fire Training Academy
Program Description: The Arkansas Fire Training Academy provides courses for professional education and training in firefighting, hazardous materials handling and emergency medical services. The program employs practices and standards established by state and national authorities. Southern Arkansas University Tech proudly describes the use of state-of-the art techniques and equipment related to fire service management. Facilities in the Highland Park area include a model fire station constructed for simulation training.
The Arkansas Fire Training Academy offers two college degree programs:
The fire and emergency response program includes electives such as fire service leadership, fire prevention, fire service rescue, fire inspection principles, firefighter safety, fire investigation and fire administration. The fire and science management program covers strategy and tactics, fire prevention, fire administration, fire investigation and legal aspects of fire service.
The AR Fire Training Academy holds accreditation from IFSAC and the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (NPQS or Pro-Board) and is able to offer certifications such as these: Firefighter I & II, Driver/Operator, Hazardous Materials - Awareness, Hazardous Materials - Operations, Instructor I and Fire Officer I & II levels. The academy is accredited by the state Department of Health to provide certification at the Emergency Medical Technician - Basic level.
Northwest Arkansas Community College has associate degree programs intended to prepare graduates not only for careers in the field of firefighting, but also in the related fields of emergency medical services and first response.
Program Name: Fire Science Administration and Technology
Program Description: NWACC's fire science administration and technology program consists of 60 credit hours in fire science technology, fire science administration, emergency medical services, occupational safety and general education. Courses are only offered in traditional, face-to-face settings. Most of the instruction takes place at the Bentonville campus, but there is supplemental training at local firehouses and the Arkansas Fire Training Academy. Students must meet NWACC admissions standards and achieve a C or better in all fire science and general education courses.
Related studies at NWACC include the Environmental and Regulatory Science – Safety, Health and Hazardous Material Management program. This associate degree program is available fully online or at the Bentonville and Washington County locations. Emergency response programs include an EMT - Basic certificate of proficiency and either an associate degree or technical certificate in paramedic science.
For more information: http://www.nwacc.edu/web/programs_fire_science/
Although the accredited fire science colleges in Arkansas do not offer distance learning options, many out-of-state colleges accept applicants from around the country for their online fire science programs. Because of the hands-on nature of firefighting, some coursework is done in a traditional, face-to-face setting. However, much of what students learn at physical campuses -- such as general education subjects -- can be taught online. This is especially true for current fire professionals who have already engaged in physical training and are looking to supplement their knowledge and further their careers. Online colleges offer a range of degrees in subjects such as fire administration and emergency services management.