Fire Science Degree Programs in Delaware | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 6, 2020
With the seventh-lowest population in the country and the second-smallest geographic area, Delaware has a small but mighty force of firefighters, many of them volunteers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Delaware employs the fewest firefighters in the country: just 380 as of May 2018. However, there are plenty of opportunities for firefights, particularly volunteers.
Still, the BLS places Delaware in the second highest-earning category for firefighters in the country, reporting an annual mean income of $48,800 and an hourly wage of $23 in the state.
Read on for more information on how to become a firefighter in Delaware, including firefighter requirements in the state, courses and programs for firefighters, details on salaries and job growth, and resources for Delaware firefighters.
Firefighter requirements in Delaware depend on the regulations in each particular location set by each town or county government. For example, Wilmington requires firefighter recruits to be 18 years old, and Odessa requires them to be 19 years old.
Since Delaware's population falls below 1 million, its towns are small. As such, many jurisdictions share fire departments between towns. Dover, for example, collaborates with its county neighbors in a volunteer fire department. According to the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters, requirements for volunteer firefighters generally include a minimum age of 18 and a physical fitness examination.
Other locations require firefighters to obtain additional training. Odessa requires them to hold emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and take courses on basic firefighting, structural firefighting, and hazardous materials response. Wilmington tests applicants through a physical agility exam, a written examination, and two interviews, while Christiana requires new firefighters to attend the Delaware State Fire School.
The Delaware Forest Service employs a team of firefighters to suppress wildfires, providing free training for applicants at least 18 years of age. Prerequisites for the training include two courses (both available online): an introduction to the incident command system and an introduction to the national incident management system.
Becoming a Firefighter in Delaware: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Delaware?
It depends. Inexperienced volunteer firefighters may only need to complete minimal training, while towns like Christiana require firefighter preparation through the Delaware State Fire School.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Some towns, such as Odessa, require firefighters to complete EMT training in Delaware and register nationally as EMTs. Many volunteer departments in Delaware do not require EMT certification.
What is the test like for firefighters in Delaware?
Wilmington requires firefighters to pass the online National Testing Network's FireTEAM test, which validates mechanical knowledge and reading and math skills.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters must demonstrate high levels of physical fitness. Most applicants must pass tests of physical agility and/or strength to qualify.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Delaware?
The Delaware Forest Service trains and employs crews of firefighters to fight wildfires in the state. Applicants must be 18, complete training, pass a work-capacity pack test, and commit to traveling for two weeks at a time.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Delaware?
It depends on the jurisdiction. Some departments, like Dover, provide training for hires, while others require that applicants already hold EMT and other certifications. Certification can take anywhere from three months to four years to obtain, depending on how the applicant chooses to pursue it.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Delaware
As a small state, Delaware offers limited academic opportunities for firefighters, though there are some options for students looking to pursue certificate programs. The Delaware State Fire School provides a variety of courses in firefighting and emergency medical services. It also offers continuing education and recertification options, online learning, and certification testing, among other programs.
Prospective students should research requirements for the city, county, or state agency for which they wish to work before committing to a program, as firefighter requirements in Delaware differ depending on local regulations.
Delaware Tech's six-part fire protection certificate includes courses in OSHA construction safety, fire protection fundamentals, fire codes and standards, fire safe building construction components, and automatic fire sprinkler systems. The program comprises 210 hours of coursework.
To obtain fire fighter I certification in Delaware, students can take preparation courses at the Delaware State Fire School. Courses required before the exam include emergency medical technician or emergency medical responder, basic firefighting skills, structural firefighting, hazmat response skills, and vehicle rescue.
The Delaware State Fire School provides a 180-hour course for EMT certification, which prepares students for national registration as EMTs. Prerequisites include a minimum age of 18, a background check, and APR/AED certification. The course covers the assessment, stabilization, monitoring, and transportation of hospital-bound patients, plus a clinical internship.
Fire Science Colleges in Delaware
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Delaware
The BLS lists Delaware in the lowest national category for firefighter employment. As of May 2018, the state employed only .84 firefighters per 1,000 people. With so many towns combining forces through volunteer firefighting efforts, even in the state capital of Dover -- which is the last state capital to run a volunteer fire department -- these low employment numbers make sense.
Volunteer firefighters may not always earn salaries, though the state compensates them through pension plans, workers comp, scholarships, and tax credits, plus benefits like fishing permits.
While Delaware firefighter salaries lag in comparison to the state's neighbors on the East Coast, it still falls into the second highest-paying category in the country. Nationally, the BLS estimates that jobs for firefighters will grow by about 5%, matching the national average growth rate for all occupations.
Delaware offers a selection of resources for volunteer and professional firefighters in the state. Professional associations support firefighters at all career levels, boosting camaraderie, offering community service opportunities, providing scholarships and training, and advocating for the interests of firefighters with legislative officials.
The state government also offers resources through its forest service, which employs and coordinates firefighters in the state, and the Delaware State Fire School, which trains them. The list below offers details on a few resources available for firefighters in Delaware.