Although the numbers may not be high, Delaware does offer opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in fire science or fire safety. Delaware employed 310 firefighters as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and about 110 fire inspectors and investigators.
Fire science professionals in Delaware can earn a competitive salary, sometimes earning as much as, or even more than, those employed in similar roles in larger, more populous states. Below is a glance at annual wages for fire service occupations at the entry, median and advanced levels in Delaware:
Delaware Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$28,500||$47,420||$64,670|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$26,400||$43,290||$69,600|
The field of fire science is a competitive one, with slower than average job growth projected between 2012 and 2022. Postsecondary education can expand career opportunities for aspiring firefighters. Because of Delaware’s limited size, it has fire science degree or certificate programs only at one state fire school and one community college: Delaware State Fire School and Delaware Technical Community College.
The goal of the Delaware State Fire School is to prepare students both physically and mentally for the firefighter certification exam, with classrooms and training grounds at the facility. However, for a high-level position in the firefighting industry, including investigator, inspector or prevention engineer, students are likely to seek an associate degree, or above. Delaware Tech’s Stanton Campus offers a program for an associate degree in fire protection. This degree is suited for a fire protection engineering technician but could also be applied to several professions within the fire science field.
As mentioned, there are two institutions in Delaware for a fire science degree or certificate program.
This state school provides an education in fire science for more advanced positions than firefighter.
Program Name: Fire Protection
Program Description: Delaware Tech’s Fire Protection program – offered only on its Stanton Campus – trains students in the profession of fire protection engineering technicians, a job that can entail designing sprinklers and alarm systems or ensuring that structures comply with fire regulations. However, the coursework for the associate degree in fire protection may be applicable to other professions, such as fire inspector, insurance loss control specialist or risk engineering technician.
The Fire Protection program offers specialized facilities, including a burn laboratory and a sprinkler/alarm laboratory, used also by local companies to test that their products meet national standards. The program is constructed to provide graduates with advanced knowledge in fire protection computer applications, analyzing building plans, building inspections, and specifying fire-rated building materials for architects and contractors. Additional skills targeted in these studies include communicating with business owners, industrial managers and government officials.
For more information, visit the school’s page: https://www.dtcc.edu/academics/programs-study/fire-protection
The Delaware State Fire School is the state’s official institution for fire-related education.
Program Name: Various
Program Description: Under the patronage of the State Fire Prevention Commission, the Delaware State Fire School provides educational courses and training in fire, rescue and emergency medical training, as well as public fire safety education. It consists of three training centers across the state, with convenient access for Delaware inhabitants: a New Castle center in the north, a Dover center in the middle and a Sussex center in the south. The New Castle and Sussex locations include both a flammable gases training area and a structural burn building, and all three locations are equipped with the appropriate training grounds for modern firefighters.
The school offers 66 different classes for firefighters, 13 EMS classes and 10 American Heart Association courses. Two online courses are available relating to the incident command system. Specialized training programs span divergent topics, such as advanced wildland firefighting, pipeline emergencies, introduction to fire behavior, leadership and arson detection for first responders.
For more information, including the complete course catalog, visit: http://statefireschool.delaware.gov/default.shtml
One challenge regarding online education for fire science is that firefighting certification requires a physical examination that distance learning cannot fully prepare for. Given that the Delaware State Fire School offers three locations throughout the state, would-be firefighters could combine an online education with the physical training courses at one of these campuses. As the other fire science program in the state does not offer a bachelor’s degree, a hybrid of online classes and on-grounds training might suit a student with ambitious professional goals. Neither of the campus-based schools mentioned above offers fire-related degrees online, so Delaware natives can look into out-of-state online schools for a fire science degree. Online colleges provide options ranging from certificates and associate degrees in fire science to graduate degrees in fire and emergency services administration.