Today's community colleges are playing a critical role in firefighting training, even for those who have not yet been hired by their local fire department.
Firefighting has traditionally been a career that trains applicants on the job, once they pass basic physical and mental testing. However, as the career field becomes more competitive, more and more fire departments are looking for applicants with some sort of post-secondary training – even an associate's degree
in fire science. Community colleges are quickly rising to answer the call, providing state-of-the-art training facilities to prepare new firefighters for the rigors and diversity of the job.
About the Firefighting Profession
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
, the job of a firefighter involves hazardous conditions and long, irregular hours. Despite the demands of the job, this industry is expected to see keen competition for available jobs, since many qualified applicants are interested in becoming firefighters. In addition to rigorous training applicants must undergo, physical and medical exams must also be passed to ensure applicants are healthy enough for the job. Ongoing training is a must in this industry, as new fire fighting and first aid techniques are developed all the time.
Because many senior firefighters are nearing retirement age, younger workers are being asked to take on leadership roles within many departments. To prepare these new firefighters for their positions, departments are teaming up with some community colleges across the country to provide the highest quality of training possible. We have examples of just a few of these programs going on around the nation.
Mesa Offers Virtual Emergency Training
An article in the East Valley Tribune
reports on renovations going on at Mesa Community College
in Arizona to help train firefighters in the most realistic setting possible. In 2004, voters in this district approved a Maricopa County Community College
District bond that provided funds for firefighting training. The funds have been used to construct a state-of-the-art facility that houses a simulated emergency environment. Through this training location, future firefighters can learn how to handle everything from a major fire to a terrorist attack
Construction is still underway for a command center that will make the field training even more realistic. The command center will be manned by students who feed information to additional students in the field. These trainees will learn firsthand the type of stress firefighters work under every day, so they are ready to make the life-and-death decisions when they are out in the field for real.
New Academy Coming to Tulsa
In Oklahoma, a new training academy will be used to train Tulsa firefighters, as well as firemen from neighboring areas. The cost of this new academy was approved by voters in 2005, according to a report at News on 6
, but the location was just recently agreed upon – near the Tulsa Community College
This new facility will house a six-story tower that trains recruits in everything from high-rise fires to industrial accidents. A mock fire station will hold the training vehicles and give students a glimpse into what the life of a firefighter is really like. Construction for the academy is still a couple of months away, but the fire department will use classroom space at the college for training until the facility is complete.
Wildland Firefighting Training in Oregon
Linn-Benton Community College
in Albany, Oregon also offers formal training for firefighters – both those coming into the field and those who are current firefighters and need a refresher course. Classes at the college include basic and advanced training, depending on the level of experience students already possess. According to the college website
, applicants must be able to pass a physical fitness test that includes a three-mile hike wearing a 45-pound backpack to qualify for the program.
Full-Time Academy Coming to North Carolina
Beginning in January, 2011, Central Carolina Community College
will offer a full-time training academy for firefighters. The course of study will consist of a rigorous 815 hours, with classes five days a week for five months. Classes are offered through the college's Continuing Education Department at the Emergency Services Training Center and by local fire departments in the area. Classes are conducted in a college environment, and uniforms are required for all students.
Becoming a firefighter today takes much more preparation and training than ever before. This industry is called on to answer a wide range of emergency calls, from fires to natural disasters and terrorist attacks. The best possible training in state-of-the-art facilities is the best way to prepare for this specialized field, and community colleges are answering the call. If firefighting sounds like the right job for you, contact your local community colleges
to find out what type of firefighting training they provide. Your post-secondary education might be the competitive edge you need to land a job in this rewarding industry.