Fire Science Degree Programs in Hawaii - Fire Science

Written by Kathleen Swed
Last Updated: Feb 6, 2020

Every year, wildfires in Hawaii claim .5% of the state's total land area. In a state known for its lush beauty, the importance of firefighting only increases as the effects of climate change come into play. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the nation can expect a 5% uptick in demand for firefighters from 2018-2028, a pace equal to the average for all occupations.

Hawaii firefighters earn some of the top salaries in the country for their profession, with an annual mean wage of $62,670 in May 2018, and nonmetropolitan firefighters in the Kauai area of the state made $55,190 -- the third-highest salary for nonmetropolitan firefighters in the nation.

On this page, readers can learn more about how to become a firefighter in Hawaii, with details on firefighter requirements in Hawaii, available academic programs, job growth potential, and resources for firefighters across the state.

Firefighter Requirements in Hawaii

Firefighter requirements in Hawaii depend on the local jurisdictions rather than state regulations, specifically the counties of Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, the city and county of Honolulu, and the State of Hawaii Airports Division. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife employs foresters, technicians, and scientists who also fight wildfires in Hawaii.

The Kauai Fire Department requires applicants to demonstrate training and experience equivalent to a high school diploma, plus two years of work experience in any field. Kauai and Maui both require written and oral examinations, plus a physical test. Maui's written exam consists of memorization questions, reading, grammar, math, mechanics, and spatial reasoning. Candidates who pass the written test qualify to undertake the physical exam, which involves a one-mile run, 100-meter swim, ladder climb, stair climb, and field event.

Like Kauai, Honolulu requires applicants to have experience or education equal to a high school diploma. Honolulu trains recruits in firefighting and lifesaving principles, fire safety and prevention, and equipment handling through both classroom and hands-on exercises. Honolulu firefighters who complete recruit training may qualify for firefighter I certification. Like the other counties, Honolulu firefighters must demonstrate strong physical fitness.

Becoming a Firefighter in Hawaii: Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the specific training for Hawaii?

    Some departments, like Honolulu, train recruits in the necessary skills for firefighting. Others require applicants to enter with the knowledge to pass written and oral examinations.

  • Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?

    Typically, firefighters in Hawaii do not need to obtain EMT certification. Honolulu requires firefighters to complete recruit training before advancing to firefighter I or II status.

  • What is the test like for firefighters in Hawaii?

    Maui's written exam includes questions in reading, grammar, memory, math, mechanics, and spatial reasoning. Physical examinations may include challenges such as stair climbing, ladder climbing, and timed running.

  • What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?

    Firefighters must maintain high levels of physical fitness. Most departments require candidates to complete physical fitness and/or agility tests as a part of the application process.

  • What if I only want to fight wildfires in Hawaii?

    Hawaii's Division of Forestry and Wildlife coordinates wildfire suppression in the state, but the firefighters they employ also double as biologists, natural resource managers, and other forestry employees. Municipal departments may be deployed to assist in fighting wildfires.

  • How long does it take to become a firefighter in Hawaii?

    Most departments require at least a high school diploma or its equivalent in the form of work experience or other training. Some departments, like Kauai, require two years of general work experience before a candidate may apply to work as a firefighter.

Firefighter Courses and Programs in Hawaii

Hawaii firefighters can take advantage of several options for fire-related academic programs. Certificate programs are available for students looking to gain the skills necessary to pass firefighting examinations, and associate degree programs can prepare students for entry-level positions or advancement in the field. With the fundamentals in general education an associate degree offers, some students may continue to complete a bachelor's degree elsewhere.

Because requirements for firefighters vary by location, prospective students should research their local regulations before committing to a program. The list below offers a few options for prospective students in fire science or related areas in Hawaii.

Honolulu Community College

Program Name Certificate of Achievement in Fire and Environmental Emergency Response
Program Description A subset of the associate degree program, Honolulu CC's 25-credit certificate of achievement requires courses in fire protection, fundamentals of fire prevention, emergency medical technician, mangagement in fire service, firefighting tactics and strategies, hazardous materials awareness and operations, and basic rescue in the fire service.

Honolulu Community College

Program Name Associate in Applied Science in Fire and Environmental Emergency Response
Program Description Honolulu CC's 60-credit associate degree admits students to the major program once they have completed prerequisites or appropriate placements in English and math. Course requirements include fire protection, fundamentals of fire prevention, environmental chemistry, emergency medical technician, firefighter I and II, and general education requirements.

Hawai'i Community College

Program Name Associate of Science in Fire Science
Program Description Designed to prepare students for careers in emergency services, Hawai'i CC's program partners with Colorado State University (CSU) to allow associate degree graduates the opportunity to continue bachelor-level studies through CSU's online program. Hawai'i CC's fire science degree requires courses in essentials of fire suppression, wildland fire control, incident command systems, fire hydraulics, fire administration, and hazardous materials awareness/operations.

Fire Science Colleges in Hawaii

Degree Level
School Type

Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Hawaii

According to the BLS, firefighters in Hawaii numbered 1,710 as of May 2018, placing the state at the bottom of the second-lowest employment category in the country. The highest concentration of firefighters in Hawaii was in Honolulu's urban area, which employed 1,020 during that time period.

Hawaii ranked among the top-paying states for firefighters in the country, with an annual mean wage of $62,670 as of May 2018 and a mean hourly wage of $30.13. In fact, Kauai earned the distinction of third highest-paying nonmetropolitan area in the country, with an annual mean wage of $55,190 and mean hourly wage of $26.53.

Nationally, the BLS projects 5% growth in demand for firefighters from 2018-2028. Hawaii loses .5% of its total land area annually to wildfires, making firefighting an increasingly crucial occupation in the state.

National Average Salaries for Firefighters

0-12 Months

Entry Level

1-4 Years

Early Career

5-9 Years


10-19 Years



Source: PayScale

Firefighter Resources in Hawaii

Professional resources for firefighters can offer a plethora of benefits, including training and continuing education, financial resources, insurance, and legislative advocacy that helps improve safety and equipment standards for all firefighters. Professional organizations also emphasize community engagement and charity.

Firefighters in Hawaii gain access to several professional organizations, plus state resources for wildfire watches and education. The list below offers a few examples of resources for firefighters in Hawaii.

Hawaii Firefighters Association

The HFFA supports firefighters in Hawaii by providing their members with various benefits, including supplemental insurance, discounts, retirement planning, and educational savings plans. The HFFA also advocates for firefighter interests at local, state, and national government levels.

State of Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Hawaii's DOFAW coordinates wildfire suppression efforts on DOFAW territory, which comprises 26% of Hawaii's land. The DOFAW coordinates first response, maintains water tables, and works with local fire departments.

Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization

HWMO works for wildfire prevention in Hawaii by educating the public about frequent wildfire causes. The organization develops strategic plans for wildfire response, collaborating with communities and firefighters to prevent, predict, and respond to wildfires.

Hawaii Fire Chiefs Association

The HFCA cultivates camaraderie among emergency services leaders in Hawaii, conducts research, and provides continuing education. The HFCA also holds an annual training and business meeting.

International Association of Firefighters

The IAFF brings together firefighters from around the world, supporting the profession through legislative advocacy, education opportunities, pension tools, arbitration, and a wide array of professional resources.