Although there are a little over 6,000 firefighting professionals in Michigan, the need for new professionals is likely to grow in order to protect the state's forests and urban areas. Firefighters and other first responders such as EMTs and paramedics may be the most recognizable professionals, but they are not the only ones who serve to protect people and property against fire damage and loss in Michigan. Fire inspectors, for example, evaluate buildings and facilities to ensure they are in compliance with all ordinances and safety regulations, while fire investigators explore the cause of fires and related disasters. First-line supervisors manage firefighting teams and also coordinate activities for fire fighting, prevention and control. Each member is vital to combatting and preventing fire damage, and requires specialized skills and training to get the job done.
Salary for these fire science and safety professionals can very greatly, depending on education, certification and place of employment. To illustrate, below are examples of annual wages for three fire service occupations at the entry, median and advanced levels:
|Michigan Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||$40,580||$57,990||$81,230|
|Fire Service Supervisors||$19,090||$35,250||$67,680|
The Department of Labor’s BLS website suggests that postsecondary education and certification can boost career options for firefighters. In Michigan, there are 19 accredited schools that offer fire science training, and these range from public universities like Lake Superior State University to community colleges like Lansing Community College. As a minimum requirement, firefighters need dual Michigan Fire Fighter I/Fire Fighter II certification, but some local departments may also require psychological evaluations, drug screenings and physical checkups.
The most basic training programs for a career in firefighting are certificate courses to prepare for the Fire Fighter I and II certifications, which comprise both written exams and a series of practical skill evaluations. Coursework in a fire science program is designed to prepare students for the tests, which follow the National Fire Protection Association Standard 1001. Those who wish to pursue a career as an investigator or fire prevention engineer typically need at least an associate degree in fire science – the most popular fire science degree in the state – which can be completed in 2-3 years depending on a student’s schedule. For management and administration positions, including fire chief, a bachelor’s degree in fire science is preferred.
For those interested in earning a fire science degree or certificate in Michigan, below is a list of the 19 accredited schools that provide them.
Never stop learning. With advancements in technology and our fast moving society, education is key. Even if you have to attend classes on your own time or without reimbursement, education is a valuable tool.
A bachelor’s degree in fire science, business administration or management will go a long way toward advancement. However, a master’s degree is becoming more valuable all the time.
In our Township, we are in an affluent area with many large homes. That, coupled with the fact that we only have a small number of fires per year, makes training a very important part of a firefighter’s daily routine. Training adds competency and personifies the image of the fire service in the public's eye.
LSSU made history as the United States’ first university to offer a four-year degree in fire science.
Program Name: Fire Science
Program Description: Continuing its legacy, LSSU still offers its four-year program in addition to other programs in fire science. The LSSU bachelor's degree program not only offers a general education for firefighting professional, it also values hands-on experience and practical training. Graduates can seek Michigan Fire Fighter I/Fire Fighter II certification, plus other certifications: for example, hazardous materials technician and operations, incident command, etc. Students can choose an emphasis, such as engineering technology, hazardous materials or fire science generalist.
LSSU also offers associate degrees in fire science and paramedic technology. The associate degree program in fire science has a goal of preparing students for Michigan Fire Fighter certification through the Michigan Fire Fighters Training Council (MFFTC). The main campus is located in Sault Ste. Marie, a short drive away from Canada.
More information on LSSU is found here: http://www.lssu.edu/programsofstudy/firescience/
Based on the number of students, LCC is Michigan’s biggest venue for fire science training.
Program Name: Fire Science
Program Description: Emphasizing firefighter safety and customer service, LCC has different academic paths available. Fire Science Academy, a 19-credit program, is structured to qualify students for an entry-level position. Another option, the fire science technology associate degree, encompasses Fire Academy training and focuses on preparing graduates for careers in firefighting, fire investigation, fire engineering and prevention. The standard curriculum includes the Michigan Fire Fighters Training Council Firefighter I and II courses, but also requires coursework in other fields such as fire safety, investigation and inspection, fire command and administration, hazardous materials and fire hydraulics.
LCC also gives students the option of completing a joint Fire Science/Basic EMT associate degree, in conjunction with the EMT Academy, to train the student as a multi-talented emergency medical professional. The fire science associate degree programs are accredited through the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).
For further details on LCC, refer to this site: http://www.lcc.edu/publicservice/fire_academy/
Students also have the option of earning a fire science degree online, including a four-year degree, depending on the school. The advantages of distance learning are the same as with other fields of education; students with difficult schedules or other commuting concerns can work toward their chosen degree when they want, where they want. However, most Michigan schools do not offer complete online courses for fire science. Lake Michigan College does offer an online course in Handling Medical Emergencies.
Online certificate and degree programs are available at colleges based outside Michigan. For example, Columbia Southern University -- with headquarters in Orange Beach, Alabama -- offers an accredited Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) program, as recognized by the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy (NFA). This program's approach explores an array of firefighting professions. The curriculum spans fire behavior, fire prevention, fire protection and firefighter safety, plus electives of the student’s choice. This 60-hour program culminates in an associate degree in fire science.