Although small, New Hampshire is densely populated and is served by an extensive network of firefighting and emergency response organizations. For example, the state employs 1,660 firefighters, 170 forest-fire inspectors and prevention specialists, 60 fire investigators and fire inspectors, 480 first-line supervisors, and nearly 1,000 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. New Hampshire students can prepare for state and federal licensing examinations by completing two- or four-year college degrees or earning professional certificates for advancement.
Salaries for New Hampshire firefighters may vary based on cost of living, type of service, rank, and professional experience. Below are annual salaries for three core fire service occupations in the state:
|New Hampshire Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
Before jumping on a fire truck or hoisting a fire hose, New Hampshire students must meet with state and national standards. Training in this area is meant to keep fire science professionals safe in a dangerous environment and help them protect the populace. This training and education often follows one of three paths: certificate, associate degree and bachelor’s degree.
For those looking to become firefighters, certification and a passing score on state and national exams may be the only things needed. Certificate programs generally consist of around 30 hours of education and a field internship, where students get a firsthand look into the life of a firefighter. Certificate coursework focuses heavily on preparation for New Hampshire and national certification exams as well as the basics in emergency medical skills and procedures, fire behavior, and fire suppression and control.
The associate degree, available from Lakes Region Community College, is a two-year commitment that entails about 60-65 academic hours and a field internship. Those considering online or out-of-state training could pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree. Postsecondary degrees in fire science require general education courses such as English, math, history and so on. These degree programs delve deeply into topics like fire strategy and tactics, fire company management, building construction and fire instructor training. For individuals seeking careers as fire inspectors or investigators, or supervisory roles such as fire chief, a college degree is often expected.
While New Hampshire’s institutional options for fire science studies are few, they deliver programs at differing levels, including career and technical certificates as well as associate degrees. The following spotlight sections offer a few specific details on these local training options:
Seek out community, state, or private colleges that provide fire science or paramedic degrees to embark on a career in the fire service. Supplement formal education with internships and volunteer opportunities at a local fire department.
After securing the core requirements, diversify with advanced EMS, fire inspector and investigator, technical rescue, and leadership certifications. Don't put off obtaining Fire Instructor or Company Officer credentials. Advancement to higher ranks and positions of responsibility will require an associate and/or bachelor’s degree, at a minimum. Again, pursue these earlier than later.
Both firefighting in Portsmouth and New Hampshire requires a working understanding in all disciplines of fire and emergency services. This is because our communities and our customers demand efficient and effective response to diverse requests. We can no longer specialize in only firefighting; we need to deploy resources and personnel to provide emergency and preventive medical services, fire and life safety services, hazardous materials response, and management of natural disasters. This now has to be accomplished by a single, local organization.
Program Name: Fire Science and Fire Protection
Program Description: Located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, the community college of the same name is less than an hour's drive from the cities of Concord and Manchester. LRCC's fire science program offers both associate degrees and certificate programs in two areas: fire science and fire protection. The certificate curriculum keeps it simple and sticks to the basics of EMT, fire prevention, principles of emergency procedures and fire investigation. Students must demonstrate physical fitness and the ability to perform rigorous tasks in firefighting in order to pass NH Fire Standards and Training certification.
The associate degree path at LRCC covers additional topics such as principles of emergency services, fire behavior and combustion, fire ground procedures, hydraulics and water supply, fire suppression strategy and tactics, and anatomy/physiology for EMS. Successful completion of the EMT course qualifies students to take the National Registry of Emergency Technicians’ written and practical examinations. An internship in fire prevention provides supervised field work with a fire department, and students must earn a 3.0 GPA or higher in order to be eligible.
For the LRCC program’s specific details, follow this link: http://www.lrcc.edu/academics/academic-programs/fire-technology
Program Name: Various
Program Description: The state of New Hampshire's Department of Safety is home to the Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services. This department offers fire training through the NH Fire Academy as well as a wide range of EMS/EMT training options. Fire science courses target skills for hazardous material handling and wildland firefighting or fire ground suppression, plus these professional functions: Firefighter I, II and III as well as Instructor, Inspector and Officer. As just one example, the Firefighter I course entails about 212 hours of training, and applicants must be 18 years of age. Specialized courses include disaster preparedness or aircraft rescue firefighting training, including night exercises.
Fire science seminars are found in various locations, such as a Critical Decision Making course at Goshen-Lempster Coop School, Agricultural Hazards Awareness for Firefighters and EMS Personnel, held at the Charlestown Fire Department, or Firefighter Rehabilitation and Medical Monitoring at the NH Fire Academy.
For more details on NH Fire Academy, refer to: http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/fstems/
Given the small selection of fire science schools in this small state, New Hampshire students may investigate training choices elsewhere. In nearby Connecticut, the University of New Haven offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fire science. For students enrolled in these degree programs, certain fire science courses are offered online. Fully online programs from colleges based outside New Hampshire may focus more on the administrative and managerial roles in fire science and emergency medical services.
For New Hampshire students trying to balance work, education and family responsibilities, an online degree or certificate program in fire science could allow them to utilize web-based technology to complete required coursework. Distance learning serves students who cannot travel to the school of choice or those who work unpredictable shifts. Most schools employ a combination of video conferencing, electronic assignment submission, discussion boards and online textbook materials. It may not seem that fire science is specifically suited for web-based work, but many online fire science programs require a hands-on internship, as well. Another alternative would be to earn academic credits online and seek hands-on training at the New Hampshire Fire Academy.