Fire Science Degree Programs in Maine | Firefighter Training
Written by Kathleen Swed Last Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Ranked among the nation's least-populous states, with a population density of just 43.1 people per square mile, Maine still employs the fourth-highest concentration of firefighters in the nation when compared with other occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 3.32 firefighters for every 1,000 jobs in Maine as of May 2018.
Across the country, demand for firefighters is growing at a rate of 5%, on pace with the national average for other occupations. In Maine, Projections Central expects a slightly lower growth rate of 3.6%.
On this page, readers can learn more about how to become a firefighter in Maine, including common firefighter requirements, frequently asked questions, academic firefighter courses, and a look at job growth and salary potential for firefighters in Maine.
Firefighter requirements in Maine vary depending on each individual jurisdiction rather than state oversight, with towns and counties determining their own recruitment processes.
Firefighter applicants in Maine must often obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify -- a minimum requirement in Portland, Bangor, and Saco. Portland outlines additional qualifications, requiring applicants to complete three years of post-high school work, education, or a combination of the two. All three towns require emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, as does Cumberland. Saco, on the other hand, allows certification by the end of a recruit's probationary period, while Bangor and Portland require certification upon application.
In Saco, firefighters must also obtain certification at a firefighter II level. Portland lists firefighter I and II certification as a desired qualification, and Cumberland requires even its part-time firefighters to hold at least firefighter I certification. Bangor, however, does not require it.
Most fire departments in Maine, including Bangor and Portland, require firefighter candidates to undergo a physical fitness exam. In Bangor, applicants who have taken the National Testing Network's Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) within six months are exempt from department testing. In Saco, applicants must gain clearance to operate respiratory protective gear.
Other firefighter requirements in Maine may include a valid drivers license, a written examination, a background check, and a psychological evaluation.
Becoming a Firefighter in Maine: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Maine?
Firefighter I and II training in Maine covers live-burn skills such as class A combustibles, storage containers, passenger vehicle fire, and exterior ignitable liquids. Firefighters must often be familiar with (or trained in) emergency medical services.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Many fire departments in Maine, including Portland, Bangor, Cumberland, and Saco, require applicants to hold EMT certification to qualify for the position. Saco firefighters may obtain certification after recruitment. Some fire departments also require firefighter I and II certification.
What is the test like for firefighters in Maine?
Some departments expect firefighter I and II certification, which requires successful demonstration of live burn skills and hazardous materials training. The Bangor department administers its own written examination.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters should prepare to demonstrate good physical condition. Most departments require a physical fitness test as part of the application process. Some accept the NTN's CPAT for firefighters as physical fitness validation.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Maine?
Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry hired forest rangers and forest-ranger pilots to suppress wildfires in Maine. Applicants must be 21 years old and hold an associate degree in fire science or a related area, unless they can demonstrate equivalent experience.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Maine?
It varies depending on the educational requirements of each department. EMT certification can take three months; in Portland, post-high school experience (work plus education) must total no less than three years.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Maine
Aspiring and in-service firefighters in Maine can benefit from enrollment in a fire science certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree program. No degree can guarantee a particular job or career, but academic programs can provide excellent preparation for leadership in emergency services and public administration.
Firefighters in Maine who want to fight wildfires may want to meet forest ranger qualifications. Some departments, like Portland, seek firefighters with post-high school education or work experience, which a degree could potentially provide. Because firefighter requirements in Maine vary widely by location, prospective students should check local regulations before enrolling to ensure the program matches their career goals.
Designed to serve both aspiring and in-service firefighters, SMCC's 62-credit associate degree prepares students for leadership in emergency service professions through required courses in chemistry for emergency responders, fire protection systems, fire inspector, fire service hydraulics, and fire service leadership, plus general education. Students can complete the program in four semesters.
Students holding an associate degree in fire science can apply for UMA's 122-credit bachelor's degree in public administration, which prepares them for positions such as fire chief, fire insurance investigator, and safety technician. Required courses include geographical information systems, grant writing, municipal administration, macroeconomics, and administrative law.
Designed to prepare students for firefighter I and II certification and EMT certification, EMCC's 61-credit associate degree program includes required courses such as introduction to emergency services, fire protection systems, fire science hydraulics, fire ground operations, and fire administration, plus general education requirements in composition, math, social science, and humanities.
Fire Science Colleges in Maine
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Maine
The 10th least-populous state in the nation, Maine employed 2,010 firefighters as of May 2018, according to the BLS. That number places Maine in the second-lowest category for firefighting in the nation. That said, Maine actually employs the fourth-highest concentration of firefighters in the country, with 3.32 firefighting positions per 1,000 jobs in the state. National demand for firefighters is set to rise by 5% between 2018 and 2028, but Projections Central estimates slightly lower growth in Maine, projecting an increase of 3.6%.
Firefighters in Maine earned an annual mean wage of $36,750 as of May 2018. Maine's neighboring state of New Hampshire paid an annual mean wage of $48,640 -- nearly $12,000 more than Maine -- while firefighters in nearby Vermont earned $37,070. New Hampshire's proximity to Boston, compared to the relatively smaller city sizes in Maine, could explain this discrepancy.
Firefighters in Maine can take advantage of a variety of resources offered by state offices, universities, and professional organizations. State offices coordinate wildfire suppression efforts, a crucial component to both municipal firefighters and forest rangers, while universities and fire training academies offer educational opportunities for aspiring and in-service firefighters.
A dangerous profession at the best of times, firefighting requires representation at the local, state, and government levels to ensure continued technological advances and legislative protection for firefighters. Professional organizations and unions advocate for firefighter interests and offer resources that promote camaraderie and community involvement.
The list below offers a few examples of firefighter resources in Maine.