Fire Science Degree Programs in Oklahoma | Firefighter Training
Written by FireScience.org Staff Writer Last Updated: Feb 10, 2020
An exciting, diverse industry employing evolving technology, firefighting best suits courageous, physically fit, and community-minded individuals who perform well under pressure. Many fire services professionals work as first responders on the scene of building or wildfires, while others move into administrative or educator roles. Some professionals become fire investigators -- a particularly lucrative, expanding field of firefighting, as wildfires pose an increasing threat to lives and property.
Aspiring firefighters in Oklahoma should read further for an introduction to the requirements, training, and work prospects in this growing field. The page below also covers schools, programs, professional organizations, and other resources for prospective firefighters in Oklahoma.
Firefighter requirements in Oklahoma depend partly on the jurisdiction and fire department, but applicants usually need to be 18 years old and hold U.S. citizenship, a high school diploma or its equivalent, a valid driver's license, and an acceptable driving record. Other prerequisites may apply based on location, so aspiring firefighters should research and apply to the fire academy connected to their desired employment locale.
Evaluation of fire academy candidates typically begins with mental aptitude testing and physical agility testing. Qualifying candidates move on to a background investigation, psychological and polygraph test, oral interview, and further physical screen. Candidates undergo interviews with the fire department's board of representatives and sometimes the fire chief.
The hiring and training process can take some time. For example, the Edmond Fire Department takes about four months to hire a candidate, followed by five months of training with the fire academy. The Norman Fire Academy training lasts a similar length of time (16-24 weeks), but it also requires candidates to earn emergency medical technician (EMT) certification before training.
Keep in mind that fire academy training at one location does not necessarily qualify firefighters for work in another location, so applicants should pursue training through their desired employer.
Becoming a Firefighter in Oklahoma: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the specific training for Oklahoma?
Oklahoma firefighter training varies by location, but it usually involves general firefighter knowledge and skills training plus focus (and usually certification) in specialized areas.
Is EMT/paramedic/other training or certification required?
Some Oklahoma fire departments, such as the Norman Fire Department, require EMT certification prior to training. Other departments require EMT certification within a probationary period, and some do not require all firefighters to be EMT certified.
What is the test like for firefighters in Oklahoma?
Testing also varies by department, but timed physical agility tests such as that from the Enid Fire Department usually combines general fitness measures such as running, sit-ups, and push-ups with activities relevant to firefighting such as weighted carry and beam balancing.
What kind of shape should I be in to be a firefighter?
Firefighters need to pass the physical testing described above and perform strenuous on-the-job firefighting activities such as victim-carrying, hose-dragging, and stair-climbing.
What if I only want to fight wildfires in Oklahoma?
How long does it take to become a firefighter in Oklahoma?
The firefighter candidate evaluation and hiring process often takes several months, followed by several more months of training with the fire academy. Hiring time also depends on employment demand at a particular fire department.
Firefighter Courses and Programs in Oklahoma
Oklahomans may obtain their firefighter training and education from fire academy courses, certification programs, or academic fire science degree programs. Firefighter requirements in Oklahoma vary based on specific jurisdiction, so students should reference their desired area's local guidelines before choosing a training course or program. Many degree programs combine practical certification with academic study, benefiting firefighters who want to advance into leadership positions.
In collaboration with Tulsa's Regional Fire Academy, TCC offers a comprehensive firefighter training program that includes certification in firefighter I, firefighter II, hazardous materials operations, hazardous materials awareness, advanced fire behavior, advanced auto extrication, flagging, and wildland firefighting. This program runs 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it involves physical fitness and skill building along with traditional classroom learning.
This 785-hour, 20-week fire academy program runs from August to January and prepares students for careers in fire, emergency medical services, and dispatching. Classes occur on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on some Saturdays. Students undergo physical, medical, and interview evaluations prior to admission.
This associate program trains students in fire suppression, fuels management, and burn control. The program awards NWCG certifications and meets standards for fighting wildfires established by the U.S. Forest Service and Oklahoma state wildfire management agencies.
Fire Science Colleges in Oklahoma
Firefighter Salaries and Job Growth in Oklahoma
According to the BLS, 3,530 firefighters worked in Oklahoma as of May 2018, earning a mean salary of $43,450. While lower than the national mean firefighter salary of $53,240, an Oklahoma firefighter's salary depends on factors such as work experience, education and certification levels, and cost of living in the area employed. Many firefighter positions come with paid holidays and sick days, health insurance, retirement accounts, and other benefits.
Firefighting salaries also vary widely based on industry, with fire professionals in scientific and waste management industries making higher salaries than those in support services.
The BLS projects a 5% job growth outlook for firefighters nationwide, with particularly positive prospects for fire service professionals with additional specialties in arson investigation, wildfire prevention, or paramedic certification.
Fire services students and professionals can benefit from the resources offered by professional organizations, which provide training, employment, and advocacy for firefighters. In addition to establishing industry standards and connecting their members to current fire research, these organizations offer leadership and networking opportunities for firefighting and prevention professionals.
Isolated or struggling firefighters can turn to these organizations for community, legal advocacy, and even mental health support. Firefighters also use these groups to pursue specialization areas such as arson investigation or wildfire fighting. See below for descriptions of a few Oklahoma fire service professional organizations.