Hi, I'm currently a part of the local Explorer Post in my town. Long story sort, the bug has bitten me, so to say, and I'm looking into the Fire Service as a career. I was wondering if anyone personally knew about the program in Fairbanks Alaska, at their University Fire Department and would be willing to tell me about it. Their website, and the recruiters I spoke to, claims that 71% of their alumni have successful careers, is this true? Also if someone could tell me, how helpful is a Fire Science degree in getting hired. 

I'm sorry If I am posting this in the wrong place, I'm new, and I will remove it if so no questions asked. 



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Mason, a Fire Science degree along with your EMS certs will certainly be of good potential for you. Any investment in training and education is a good investment. As a y time spent young person, any time spent in investing in your future with training an education will pay off for you. Besides the time spent in college helps to get you through that period when your not sure where your going or how to get there. Namely growing up of maturing. Good luck Mason.

Thanks a lot for the reply and good wishes Cheif. I'll definitely focus on getting some education and training.

Depends where you want to work.  In a big city department, a degree usually means nothing when getting hired.  I get educational points on my promotional exam to become Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, but it did nothing for me getting the job.  Military and residency are the only things that help there.  Smaller cities are all different.  Just look at the websites for departments you might be interested in to see what they want.

I truly can't speak for the Fairbanks program, but I wouldn't doubt their stats in regards to alumni going on to successful careers. The reality is there are a number of successful college type of programs in regards to firefighters going on to have successful careers, take a look around before committing to one program. Such programs could be quite competitive to get into and or could be a waiting list to get in the program. There are also tech/community colleges that have fire protection programs and there are a number of surrounding departments that offer an internship that also helps to get a job. Basically take a good look around, there are many good programs and schools out there with high employment rates for grads. The school I went to and the program I was in, I would say about 90% of the class went on to successful careers. There were those who lost interest in FF, those who didn't have the right mindset, and so forth, but those who were serious and persistent are all working somewhere.



How helpful is a degree? Well, it sure as hell isn't going to hurt you. The fire service today is extremely competitive and any "feathers in the cap" can help make you stand out. Unfortunately at the same time, with so many people going for degrees and more depts looking for them, having a degree has become a norm, even for those depts that don't look for a degree....so a degree is becoming almost a necessity. Same thing with EMT-Basic, in the majority of depts, it really means nothing because most candidates have that already, so you have to look for ways to stand out and a degree helps.


Now Capcity is absolutely correct on the aspect of a degree may mean nothing to get hired on a dept, but if you read what else he said, it can help in regards to promotion. Many of the larger cities out there really don't require more than just being 18, have a driver's license, and be a HS grad or hold a GED. A degree may not help your chances of getting hired on such a particular dept, but it does help to make you stand out. The reason such depts don't ask for education is that they will send new hires to their own academy and train them to their standards.


In my dept, having a degree is a requirement, but we still have our own academy. The difference between my dept's academy and Capcity's is the length and time to complete. Ours is typically 8 weeks, a big city dept can be several months, but for us, anyone coming in is already certified to the basic FF 1,2 standards and essentially the training comes down to how our dept does it. I would bet to say that it wouldn't matter what dept you get hired on, you start at the bottom, degree or no degree, as it should be.

Thanks for the reply. I would love to get to work at my hometown department one day. It's very small as I live on an island. Maybe I will ask some of the career guys what our department looks for when hiring next time I'm at the station. How does work at a private ambulance company look to employers?

Thanks for all the great information. I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for other programs that different colleges have to offer besides just the one. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Fairbanks program is that up in AK the EMTs get to start IV's. (I'm not sure if other states can do that, but I know here in Washington we don't). Thanks for the insight about academys and training as well.

There are several levels of EMT with varying skill levels. Paramedic is the top end where they are allowed to do the most skills, but there is the EMT-B/IV, where one can start IVs at a level just higher than EMT-B. Since most states utilize the National Registry, the education is standard, regardless of states. However, if part of the lure is the ability to start IVs, I'm guessing the program incorporates paramedic as part of the curriculum. Just having the ability to start IVs is really not much, again, if looking to stand out, then look for what gives you the best chance, and today, that is being a paramedic. This is also something that could be obtained in many tech college programs etc, a paramedic program is typically a 1 year program.

Oh wow thanks. I had asked one of the instructors in my program about paramedic programs.He said that you generally need 2 years of patient contact to be accepted into a paramedic program. Do you know this to be true?

That depends on the program. While many programs require applicants to be an EMT-B, the time frame really varies. In several of the programs I know of, the school is more interested in tuition $$$ as opposed to patient contacts and experience. As a result, it is not uncommon for someone to graduate a semester as an EMT-B and enroll right into a paramedic program.


Personally, I find that having some time and experience actuallyworking as an EMT is important prior to seeking enrollment into a paramedic program. One of the most important and absolutely critical skills is patient assessment, and one really doesn't get this without working as an EMT for a time period first.


The thing is though, for many fire programs out there, one could be an intern with a dept while going to school and EMT can be an elective course. You would be running calls while a student and get experience prior to enrolling in a paramedic program. One can typically complete a degree program in fire science and then get into a paramedic program as a third year option. There are also some intern programs that offer a three year program where one graduates with all the necessary fire certs, Associates Degree, and paramedic. The caveat is that one has to do some research on their own to find such programs. Some of these programs can be part of an individual dept internship, some programs are incorporated through the schools.


Where I went to school, I applied for and was accepted into an intern program while going for my A.S. The dept paid for my schooling to be an EMT-B, and paid for schooling for my fire certs. I only found out about the program AFTER I applied to the school.


Another tech college program incorporates an internship as a semester elective where students will work with a career dept and assigned to a shift. What they can do in such depts varies. My dept does have such interns at times, they get to run calls and operate as a FF, but do not count against staffing, so they are an extra person. The same time another tech school in the state offers a three year program which incorporates paramedic as well as the same type of internship program where one can work within career depts.


Since my dept got involved in having interns, almost every one that has interned with the dept and applied for a job as been hired. There is only a handful of others who got hired elsewhere and I can only think of one who left a very bad impression.


Point being is there are many programs out there that one can look into that have high success rates. I was surprised after I started looking at how many programs were available out there, so it is something to look into. The Fairbanks program could be a very good program, but they could also be competitive to get into. Just know there are other options available.

Wow thanks a lot. I just looked around on the internet and found some other programs to keep in mind. Thanks for all the awesome advice

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