New York’s firefighters, paramedics and EMTs are employed by public and private fire and emergency rescue organizations throughout the state, with more than 30,000 emergency responders in New York City alone. These professionals also staff the state’s remote wildland fire organizations, farm service districts, ports and harbors, and more than 1,600 urban and suburban fire stations.
Wages reflect the cost of living in New York, but can vary by educational attainment, department size, experience and specific location. Here are New York’s annual salaries for three fire service occupations at the entry (10th percentile), median (50th percentile) and advanced (90th percentile) levels:
New York Fire Service Careers
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Fire Service Supervisors
SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Mercy College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY are all colleges and universities in New York which offer fire science courses. Undergraduate and graduate degrees can be earned in fire science at the schools. For example, instructors at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry teach a fire science course that is part of a larger Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science degree program. The course focuses on preventing and extinguishing outdoor fires, with an emphasis on forest fires. It’s also possible to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Forest Technology while taking the course in conjunction with other classes. Furthermore, adults taking the course could work as park rangers or fire rangers at state or national parks.
Because firefighters, paramedics and EMTs have to understand how to deal with emergencies such as falling or demolished buildings, outdoor fires that are caused by droughts and fires and heavy smoke caused by bombs, schools like John Jay College’s Fire Science Institute administer programs like the Fire Safety Directors Program and the Emergency Action Plan Directors Program. At Mercy College, beginning and experienced firefighters, fire investigators and fire inspectors can take Corporate and Homeland Security courses such as Investigative Techniques and Reporting, Foundations of Risk Management and Personnel and Physical Property Security. Training for New York’s fire science specialists is also provided through organizations like the New York State Fire Prevention and Control department.
Fire science programs at New York’s colleges and universities are designed to provide advanced training to experienced professionals like firefighters, fire safety directors and fire safety coordinators. Specialized training is also offered to people who work at public and private security and criminal justice agencies as well as to adults looking to enter the fire science occupation for the first time.
You must educate yourself. There are many ways to do this—college programs or state/local classes or volunteering in Fire/EMS. Try an explorers program (if you are young) or volunteer for a while. It teaches you the culture and realities of the job, which allows you to decide if a profession in the fire service is for you. As you educate yourself, keep an open mind and look at the different models and paths that agencies use. No two fire departments operate the same. I have seen operational models from twenty years ago that have come up as solutions for problems we face today.
Not trying to repeat my last answer, but EDUCATION is the key. You must be a student of the game from the day you are sworn in until the day you muster out! Again, not all education comes from a degree. It can also come from training (local, state, NFA), committees, conferences, panels, networking, and (yes) college. Learn from your on-job experiences and make sure your job shares those experiences amongst the group. Respect those that came before you and the wisdom that comes from reputation. Look for mentors who are at the level you aspire to reach (or above) and learn directly from them.
I am not sure we are unique. At 20,000 feet we all do the same tasks. For many years, we had an operational model called Quints/Midi's that was very unique. The Quint was base pumper and ladder and the Midi (short wheel-based engine that acted as a hose tender) would supply it. About 4 years ago the administration decided to scrap that model and go back to a "traditional" Engine/Truck model. We are still adjusting to that change. We are the 3rd largest city, so we have all of the challenges—a river, great lake, industry, residential, expressways, airports, rail, etc. We share a lot of services. For example, our 911 handles police, fire, and EMS for every agency in the county and city. We integrated our community college into our local fire/EMS training, which offers credibility to our local training.
At the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science & Forestry, adults pursuing a career in firefighting can learn in a small school environment, while enjoying the benefits of studying on a campus that is part of a larger university. The University’s student to instructor ratio is approximately 13:1. Undergraduate and graduate fire science degrees are available. Additionally, fire science is taught as part of the school's Wildland Firefighting and Ecology course.
Program Name: Wildland Firefighting and Ecology
Program Description: The Wildland Firefighting and Ecology course is part of the college’s Forest Technology program. Degrees associated with this course are the Associate of Applied Science in Forest Technology, a Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Science, a Master's of Science in Environmental Science and a Doctorate of Science in Environmental Science. The course is taught through the university's Ranger School. In addition to 25 hours of lectures, adults taking the course receive 16 hours of laboratory and field training. The course is intended to be an introduction to fire science, covering topics such as danger rating, fire control and fire behavior.
Students who want to start preparing to be a firefighter, should consider the Wildland Firefighting and Ecology program. More information can be found at: http://www.esf.edu/rangerschool/courses.asp
John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY). Degree programs in the schools criminal justice programs offer a balance of humanities, arts, professional and science courses.
Program Name: Fire Safety Director
Program Description: The Fire Safety Director program benefits professionals and adults seeking careers in the fire science field such as fire directors at public structures like hospitals, hotels and high rise buildings. The program covers high rise and hotel building challenges and issues, emergency action plans, flame resistant material and heat transfer. Four lesson plans are built into the curriculum. Graduation from the program requires that students complete and pass examinations associated with each lesson plan. After completing the program, students can sit for the Fire Safety Direction test that is administered by the Fire Department of New York.
Students interested in advancing their fire science careers, should learn more about the Fire Safety Director program. More information can be found at: http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/fsi
Online fire science courses are mobile device enabled at some New York colleges and universities. Security and fire science academic programs and degrees like a Master in Security Management, non-credit U.S. Homeland Security and certificate courses are taught at New York online colleges and universities that offer Fire Science training. The courses use a blend of classroom and web-based training. There are also degree programs that only offer online courses in core or elective classes such as Homeland Security, Applied Algebra and Environmental Science. Adults who live in rural areas in locations like upstate New York as well as busy professionals looking to change careers and start working in fire science, may benefit from a dual fire science program. Benefits of taking online fire science programs are that students can take classes in a classroom setting to receive hands on training and also complete and submit course materials online to achieve work, life and school balance.