Fire Science Degree Programs in Ohio | Firefighter Training
Written by FireScience.org Staff Writer Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020
Data from the U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Incident Reporting System indicates that Ohio suffers disproportionately from fire-related destruction. As such, firefighters play an increasingly crucial role in preventing and mitigating such disasters in Ohio. This exciting, rewarding career boasts a positive growth outlook, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a national growth of 17,600 firefighting positions (a 5% growth rate) from 2018 to 2028.
For more information on Ohio firefighter salaries and job prospects, peruse the sections below, which provide an overview of firefighter requirements in Ohio. The page below also introduces Ohio firefighting schools, programs, training courses, and professional organizations for firefighters in Ohio. By reading this information, you can take your first step toward joining the ranks of Ohio's first responders and fire safety educators.
Although Ohio firefighter requirements differ based on specific area or jurisdiction, Ohio fire departments demand that candidates meet minimum eligibility qualifications and undergo extensive physical, written, and oral evaluations.
Columbus' fire department, like most Ohio fire departments, requires candidates to be at least 18 at the time of hire. They also need to be U.S. citizens, hold a valid driver's license, and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Ohio firefighter candidates who meet these general prerequisites typically undergo an initial oral assessment and written exam, and eventually a physical test. These tests usually resemble the examination descriptions outlined in the Ohio Administrative Code rule 4765-20-06.
Upon passing these tests, candidates usually complete a personal history questionnaire and submit to a background check and a polygraph test, followed by an interview with a fire department board. The board passes its recommendation on to the director of public safety, who decides whether to extend a conditional offer of employment.
After accepting this offer, the candidate receives more extensive medical, psychological, and physical fitness examinations to demonstrate overall health and fitness, such as 20/20 vision and freedom from alcohol or narcotic dependence.
Based on these results, the director of public safety may make an unconditional employment offer, at which point the candidate may begin paid training with the fire academy. After completion of training, the firefighter begins a one-year probationary period of employment and may need to obtain certification as an emergency medical technician-paramedic.
In some cases, firefighter candidates may need to obtain certification before applying with a fire department. For example, Delaware County candidates seeking firefighter certifications I & II meet additional firefighter prerequisites and take a certification course including about 300 hours of fire training.
Becoming a Firefighter in Ohio: Frequently Asked Questions
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Some Ohio fire departments, such as North Ridgeville's, require emergency medical technician (EMT) certification prior to hire, while others allow firefighters to obtain EMT certification during an initial probationary employment period.
What is the test like for firefighters in Ohio?
In addition to medical and psychological screening, Ohio firefighters undergo a written practical skills test and a physical test. The written test determines practical knowledge and problem-solving skills, while the timed physical test measures general fitness and competency in common physical firefighting activities performed in challenging conditions.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters need to pass cardiovascular fitness stress testing. Standards may vary, but Columbus, Ohio's, fitness standards are fairly representative. Firefighters also undergo timed physical firefighting activity testing which usually involves climbing stairs carrying weight, hose hoisting and advancing, forcible entry, and victim rescue carrying.
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Ohio?
After finishing the required testing and interview process described above, Ohio firefighters undergo a training period of approximately 4-6 months, depending on the fire academy. Columbus firefighters undergo 30 weeks of paid training.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Ohio
There are many excellent firefighter education options for those wishing to obtain fire science training, certifications, and degrees. Many firefighters get their training from fire academies and departments, while others may wish to study fire science in an academic program. Fire science degree programs best serve existing firefighters seeking career advancement; however, candidates interested in fire prevention or administration careers may pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in fire service or fire protection technology.
Students interested in becoming first responders might consider Central Ohio Technical College's unique fire science technical rescue associate degree. Students with distance restraints and external obligations may opt for an online fire science program. See below for descriptions of COTC's and other fire schools' programs in Ohio.
UA's fire protection technology bachelor's program focuses on new techniques in firefighting and prevention, preparing students to become knowledgeable and skilled fire protection specialists. In addition to practical courses on fire prevention, detection, control, and investigation, enrollees take coursework on firefighting history and philosophy. The program also provides familiarity with relevant legal and safety codes for building construction, hazardous materials, and firefighting practice. Students gain hands-on experience through a 15-week internship at a regional fire organization.
This program opens up career advancement possibilities for fire services professionals pursuing specialized knowledge and skills. Students can focus on occupational safety, emergency management, fire response, and fire prevention. Course offerings include leadership and ethics, disaster planning and control, terrorism in the U.S., and hazardous materials management. Most courses last seven weeks and may be completed online or through accelerated, five-day residencies. Students interested in earning a bachelor's degree can pursue UC's bachelor of science in fire and safety engineering technology.
Fire science students at COTC can choose from associate degree programs in fire science technology and a new program in fire science technical rescue (FSTR). A collaborative initiative with the Ohio Fire Academy and the first U.S. program of its kind, the FSTR program trains current and aspiring firefighters for victim rescue and firefighting in high-risk environments. Students receive comprehensive technical rescue training in compliance with the NFPA. Associate degree graduates are well-positioned to pursue a related bachelor's program or a fire department company officer position.
Fire Science Colleges in Ohio
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Ohio
According to the BLS, as of May 2018, Ohio's 19,200 firefighters made a mean annual salary of $46,310. This salary figure is lower than the national firefighter income mean of $53,240, but firefighter salaries often vary by location. For example, North Ridgeville pays its firefighter/paramedic D employees an annual salary of over $60,000.
Firefighter positions also typically come with significant benefits, including life and health insurance, paid sick leave and holidays, retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement. Ohio firefighters can advance their income potential through education, work experience, and promotion to specialized leadership positions. Firefighters nationwide enjoy encouraging job prospects, as the BLS projects a 5.4% growth in firefighting positions during 2018-2028.
Firefighter professional organizations such as the ones below give firefighters the training, advocacy, community, and resources they need to safely protect lives, natural resources, and property. Most firefighting organizations feature fire safety information, relevant events, professional development, and public education.
Ohio-based organizations often enable local networking, community engagement, and peer support. Meanwhile, organizations such as the U.S. Fire Administration or the International Association of Firefighters connect Ohio firefighters to wider national and international fire service discourse, research, resources, and guidelines.