Fire Science Degree Programs in Massachusetts

With its major cities, dense population, vibrant business, and academic communities and global institutions, Massachusetts boasts a substantial fire, police and emergency services network. As of May 2013, the state employed 12,070 firefighters, 220 fire inspectors and investigators, and 3,210 supervisors, all of which are dedicated to protecting state residents and property from fire loss and damage.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fire service professionals in Massachusetts are among the top earners in country. Below are examples of annual salaries for three common occupations:


Massachusetts Fire Service Careers
10th Percentile
50th Percentile
90th Percentile
Firefighters $29,240 $53,430 $80,000
Fire Inspectors and Investigators $43,560 $73,100 $92,110
Fire Service Supervisors $29,330 $47,580 $71,200

Education & Training for Fire Science in Massachusetts

Fire science educational programs focus on fire safety, prevention, protection and personnel management techniques. Massachusetts has certificate, associate, bachelor’s and graduate programs in the subject across several colleges, educating future firefighters, fire inspectors, emergency personnel and policy professionals. The majority of the colleges with fire science programs are community colleges granting associate degrees.

The fire science associate program offers in-depth understanding of fire control principles, prevention and investigation techniques, firefighting tools and building construction. Some courses in the curriculum include building construction for fire protection, mathematics and principles of emergency services. A fire science bachelor’s degree expands on the educational foundation and may include core science courses such as chemistry and physics as well as skills for administrative and managerial roles.

Massachusetts Colleges or Universities for Fire Science

Students aiming to become firefighters may only need a high school diploma but some postsecondary training is recommended, if not an actual fire science degree. Below are some Massachusetts colleges that offer certificate, associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees in fire science.

SCHOOL
TYPE OF DEGREE
DEGREE LEVEL STATE SCHOOL NAME PROGRAM NAME
Associate Massachusetts Berkshire Community College Fire Science / Fire-fighting
Associate Massachusetts Bristol Community College Fire Science / Fire-fighting
Associate Massachusetts Bunker Hill Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts Cape Cod Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts Greenfield Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts Massasoit Community College Fire Science / Fire-fighting
Associate Massachusetts Middlesex Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts Mount Wachusett Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts North Shore Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician
Associate Massachusetts Northern Essex Community College Fire Prevention and Safety Technology / Technician

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEWS

  • John Sullivan Operations Deputy Chief – Worcester Fire Dept. Worcester, MA
    What's the best piece of advice you can give a future firefighter (or fire investigator, inspector, etc.) in your city or state?

    Avail yourself of every opportunity to train, educate, network and enhance your professional knowledge, thus ensuring that you are truly taking every effort to be the best, most prepared decision-maker you can possibly be. This will enhance not only your own career, but also the safety and security of those you serve with and those you pledge to serve in your capacity as a firefighter.

    What educational path would you recommend for firefighters or other fire service professionals in your city or state who wish to advance their careers?

    Every firefighter should take full advantage of the certification process and should pursue the minimum education required for the rank at which he/she hopes to serve. For example, firefighter—associate degree in fire science or related field; company officer first level Chief officer—bachelor’s degree; Deputy Chief or higher—master's degree in public or business administration.

    What makes firefighting and the fire services unique in your city or state? Please be as specific as you can.

    The City of Worcester is the second largest municipality in New England and, thus, has both a long history and an older urban infrastructure. On the whole, we are still a very "fire active" municipality and department. Modern building construction is not as prevalent as it is in other areas of the country; however, our older construction types are uniquely challenging, compared to many larger communities that have a younger building stock.

Spotlight: Berkshire Community College

Berkshire Community College is one of many associate degree-granting institutions in Massachusetts with fire science programs. Based in Pittsfield, Berkshire Community College features a recently redesigned curriculum that meets the Federal Emergency Management Association’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) standards that were established with the National Fire Academy. A FESHE stamp of approval validates that a fire science program aligns its coursework with current professional development standards in fire response, prevention, administration and emergency services.

Some of the courses that make up the Fire Science AS include fire protection systems, hazardous materials chemistry, fundamentals of computer literacy and introductory sociology. The academic range of the coursework exemplifies what today’s firefighters and fire science professionals need to understand to prevent and control fires. The curriculum also reflects the required skills in operating complex firefighting tools and machinery as well as managing people in high-stress situations. Berkshire Community College’s program is clearly adapting to the demands of modern firefighting.

For more information about Berkshire CC's fire science programs and its goals: http://www.berkshirecc.edu/ContentManager/index.cfm?Step=Display&ContentID=242

Spotlight: Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College offers a four-year degree in fire science, providing future professionals more educational depth in their postsecondary fire science degree. Graduates of the bachelor's in fire science program may be readying themselves for moving up the firefighting ladder toward fire educator, fire investigator and perhaps even fire chief roles. The college’s stated goals for its fire science degree aim to instill in students a full appreciation for the theoretical, practical, administrative and social justice aspects of the profession, down to the broader mission of community and service.

Electives in the fire science program at Anna Maria College, located in Paxton, include legal aspects of emergency services, applications for fire research and an emergency medical technician course. The coursework illustrates how Anna Maria College prepares its graduates with a holistic fire science education, introducing them to the complete spectrum of fire prevention, control and post-fire issues that firefighters face in the real world.

To read more about Anna Maria College’s fire science program, visit: http://www.annamaria.edu/academics/undergrad/fire-and-health-sciences/fire-science

Fire Science: Distance Learning in Massachusetts

Online fire science programs in Massachusetts tend to offer “completion” programs that are not 100 percent online, with certain courses to be attended in-person and the remaining curriculum to be completed online. Anna Maria College features one such program, calling it a “completer” online BS in fire science.

The hands-on nature of fire science training may explain why fully online degrees are not widely available at Massachusetts colleges. For instance, Quinsigamond Community College offers an associate degree in fire science for which students can complete 80 percent of the requirements online. A fire science student at Quinsigamond may finish the Introduction to Psychology course online while taking Introduction to Fire and Emergency Administration Services in person. Online colleges with out-of-state headquarters also provide distance learning programs in fire science, with options such as bachelor's degrees in fire administration.