Fire protection technicians are specialists in the science of fire prevention who help individuals, groups or organizations diagnose the risk of fire and deploy proper safeguards. They’re employed by federal, state and local firefighting organizations. Some take jobs in the insurance trade or with manufacturing firms that design, build and deploy fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinkler systems.
As a fire protection technician, you’ll combine classroom-honed skills with practical workplace experience in assessing building plans or existing dwellings for potential hazards, combustion factors, building code compliance, and emergency protocol. You may be called to present lectures to building firms or public groups on the dangers of fire, the proper use of safety equipment. Some technicians advise homeowners or commercial ventures in the proper design to minimize the loss of life or property in an emergency.
Since each public firefighting agency or private research/manufacturing firm has its own hiring requirements, it pays to ask several organizations where you hope to work how to become a fire protection technician in their jurisdiction. Many professional pathways lead to the fire protection career, however a lot of technicians begin their occupations by becoming a paid or volunteer firefighter to learn the basics of the field.
You may choose to attend a basic fire science training program and test for entry as a firefighter with your local fire department. You may be required to pass physical fitness and stress tests, a drug test, and background check. Or, you can begin training by enrolling directly in a two-year, fire protection technician training program. Either way, in the field firefighting experience can greatly improve your chances at getting into school, remaining with your fire agency after graduation or in bolstering your professional credentials.
Fire protection technician training programs employ combined classroom and laboratory experience with field work on actual fire scenes. Coursework typically includes the training in sophisticated computer software programs that are used to calculate fire risk based on variables in structural design, occupational space, evacuation plans, building materials, fire alarm and suppression systems.
You program may also offer training or refresher training in firefighting science, including emergency medical service, driver-operator-pumper techniques, hazardous materials, rope and ladder rescue, trench rescue and how to perform rescues in confined space. Programs leading to an associate degree may also include training leading to EMT-Basic certifications, and you may find the option of earning an Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic certification (NREMT-P).
Public outreach is a large component of the fire protection technician role. You’ll learn the technical skills for developing and applying pre-incident plans, how to demonstrate public fire education programs, use incident command systems, and investigate fires. Information gathered from fire scenes determine causes and fire chemistry – all useful data to a technician searching for more effective fire prevention technology.
Other training modules can include the legal aspects of firefighting service, technical math and computer science, chemistry, firefighter health and safety, fire protection hydraulics, human psychology, building construction and code requirements, government operations and professional communications. You training program may also include an internship requirement, which places you in service with a range of employers including firefighting agencies, chemical companies, and wilderness organizations or building firms.
Not all fire protection technicians choose a single specialty. You may want to take technician training to advance in rank with your fire service organization and increase your value to the agency. Or, you might want to work several years in the public sector before branching out to become private consultant.
Those wanting to go into fire management or fire engineering may be able to transfer fire protection technician training credits to their four-year or post-graduate fire science programs.Some states prefer recruiting technicians who have completed voluntary certifications as a means of benchmarking their abilities. You can test as a certified contractor of portable or fixed fire extinguishers or systems, automatic sprinkler systems and fire alarms.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created a Certified Fire Protection Specialist Board to test experts for its Certified Fire Protection Specialist credential. The certification is offered to fire marshals, safety managers, fire loss investigators, inspectors, designers, risk managers, commercial real estate managers, and building code enforcement personnel.
To qualify for the exam, you’ll need to hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering or fire technology and two years’ verifiable firefighting experience. You can also take the examination by combining a two-year degree with four years’ of professional experience. Want to specialize? You’ll also find certification programs for fire protection technician expertise in marine or aviation industries.
Remember, firefighting and fire engineering certifications typically require ongoing training or refresher courses to retain your qualifications. Fire science must meet the challenges of emerging high density cities, new building codes and ever-evolving construction materials. At the completion of your a fire protection technician training you’ll have practical field experience and the technical know-how to prevent fires and save lives.