Despite its small size, there are a number of opportunities for fire science professionals in Connecticut—the state has about 245 stations and employs 3,040 firefighters and 550 fire inspectors and investigators in an effort to prevent loss of life and property due to fire.
In addition to numerous job opportunities, Connecticut also compensates firefighters and other fire safety and emergency service professionals well. Take a look at annual salaries for firefighters, fire inspectors/investigators, and first-line supervisors in Connecticut:
|Connecticut Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$19,150||$57,390||$89,700|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$30,060||$48,780||$73,930|
Connecticut is home to six accredited schools that offer degrees in fire science, plus the Connecticut Fire Academy, which provides education and physical training for certification tests as well as administering them. In addition to a written exam, firefighter applicants must demonstrate their practical skills and application of knowledge and pass a Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
The state’s community colleges offer fire science programs, which give students the opportunity for either certificates or an associate degree. For careers in the industry more advanced than firefighting, students generally pursue at least an associate degree, which can be earned in 2–3 years depending on one’s schedule. Fire inspectors and investigators often hold a college degree in addition to professional experience. It’s important to note that Connecticut’s University of New Haven not only offers a bachelor’s degree in fire science, but also a master’s – one of the few universities to do so.
Below are some institutions in Connecticut offering a fire science education:
Continue your education. Fire service will continue to evolve and adapt to the changes in technology, hazards as well as societal changes that affect how and what services we deliver. Become the jack-of-all-trades and the master of some. Be aggressive, volunteer for everything. Continue your education by participating in a wide range of projects. That practical knowledge will give you exposure, understanding and contacts for future undertakings.
A bachelor’s degree is a must, but also don't forget the practical skills needed to do this job well. Some of our best firefighters have CDL licenses, are electricians, plumbers and carpenters. As in my previous response, get education from school as well as experience—volunteer to run a program or division in your department; lead the committee that designs a piece of equipment or station expansion or develops a new service or upgrades an existing service; provide training to your shift or division on the areas you are well versed in; lead the application committee for a Fire Act Grant. Each of these activities deepens your technical knowledge, but more importantly hones your interpersonal skills and those skills are what fire service leaders must have to be successful.
In Norwalk, CT, we are fortunate that there are many paths a career firefighter can take. We provide the opportunities for firefighters to be innovation and act on their own initiative. We have a firefighting division with a marine operation and a haz mat team. Our Fire Marshals office staff is working to become the drone operators for any other municipal department that needs drone video. Our Maintenance Division has been recognized for in house kit bashing; creating a new haz mat tractor trailer using the refurbed cab and chassis from a retired unit and making a Technical Rescue truck from a surplus cab and chassis and an acquired box truck.
UNH boasts a comprehensive fire science program, one of the few in the country to offer a master’s degree, as well as a Fire Science Club.
Program Name: Fire Science
Program Description: Certificate, associate, bachelor’s and master’s – all are available academic pathways for the students of UNH. The associate program focuses on fire and occupational safety, while the bachelor's programs offer choices such as fire science and fire protection engineering. Undergraduates select from concentrations such as fire administration, fire technology, and fire investigation and arson. Graduates also have multiple options for their emphasis: fire administration, fire investigation and arson or public safety management.
This private university describes its fire science program as ahead of the curve thanks to state-of-the-art facilities, including a fire and arson investigation lab, fire alarm/detection lab, automatic sprinkler lab and fire dynamics lab. Programs are designed to prepare graduates for careers including fire prevention, fire engineering, fire suppression and fire service management, in either the public or private sector.
For more information, visit the school site: http://www.newhaven.edu
CFA is the state’s fire science education facility, where applicants can both prepare for and take the certification exams.
Program Name: Various
Program Description: Part of the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, the Connecticut Fire Academy delivers students educational programs in fire and rescue, hazardous materials and other fields related to emergency services. The courses ready students for the written exam, while the modern training facility helps students prepare for the CPAT. Certain CFA courses can be claimed for college credit, for example: Chemistry for Emergency Response, Command and General Staff Function for Incident Level Management Teams, Fire Officer, Fire Service Instructor, Health and Safety Officer, Incident Safety Officer – Fire Suppression, Public Fire and Life Safety Educator I or Recruit Firefighter.
For more information, visit the state of Connecticut’s site: http://www.ct.gov/cfpc/site/default.asp
The University of New Haven provides a distance learning program where students can earn master’s degree in emergency management, completely online. The coursework focuses on disaster preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, with options for learning about the social effects of different disasters, the role of the emergency manager, and disaster preparedness in the public and private sectors. Online colleges also offer programs for fire science certificates and associate or bachelor's degrees, suited to those who are unable to attend classes on campus. However, given the nature of firefighting and the requirement of a physical examination, some hands-on training is recommended before applying for certification. In this state, students can learn the basic knowledge for a career in firefighting at an online school, then participate in a training program at the Connecticut Fire Academy or other such firefighter training institutions.