I'd like to hear thoughts on FF 1&2 certs vs a fire science degree. Let's say its your job to hire a new firefighter. You have to equally good candidates, but one has their firefighter 1 and 2 cert, the other has the 2 year fire science degree. Who do you chose?

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That would be entirely dependent on what the type and length of the training academy was for the fire department I was hiring him for.  If the academy was the equivalent of FF1 &2 then I may move favorably look at the AAS depending on what other experience that candidate had.  If the academy was an abreviated one meant to get the candidate on the job quickly then I would hire the certified firefighter.

As Don essentially gets to, there is more to the answer than giving an either "A" or "B" answer, there are more variables to consider. More often than not, there will be more that makes someone stand out from others, going beyond just fire certs. Past work experience can be a factor, military background, skills such as multi-lingual, other education and so forth.


Some other factors to consider is that most AS programs tend to have FF 1&2 as electives or incorporated within the program, or ability to obtain them. You don't see too many folks with an AS in Fire Science that do not have their FF1&2 certs. Another factor to consider is the hiring requirements of the dept. If this is a career dept that is asking for minimum requirements (18, HS/GED, driver license) then they would be running their own fire academy and thus personnel meet the FF cert requirements. In such a case, I would say an AS degree would stand out more, for the simple fact it shows motivation and ability to complete a goal.


For those depts that may not run an academy then they would want personnel who have the necessary certifications so they can be utilized as a dept member immediately. In such cases, such depts tend to be smaller in size and can't afford to hire and train personnel to required standards so they ask for those certs up front. In such a case, one would need those certs just to apply and subsequently, you really wouldn't find such a situation, since the person with only an AS degree doesn't have the certs. 

To answer this question more accurately I would like to know if the department puts more "worth" in a college degree than training/certification?

I asked a similar question last year to the forum and the general opinion was that a college education is more beneficial to someone aspiring to become an administrator because most states have training subjects for management that can be taken at the local vocational school or state fire college that gives you what you need to become a lieutenant or captain.

Using Florida as an example by law to be hired you must have a FF1 & 2 certification to be paid and FF1 to volunteer. Possession of a college degree is a "nice to have" and it gets you more money under a state law that recognizes the higher education

I guess it comes down to what your state law is or how your department rates candidates in the absencece of a state requirement. (IMHO) I see a fire science degree in a line FF candidate as a "nice to have". If you desire to move up in management or administration is a "gotta have"

One of my colleagues believes that firefighting is a vocation at the FF1&2 level and above that your college education serves you better as a company officer and chief officer

good subject, sir

I guess it comes down to what your state law is or how your department rates candidates in the absencece of a state requirement. (IMHO) I see a fire science degree in a line FF candidate as a "nice to have". If you desire to move up in management or administration is a "gotta have"

State law tends to be a minor issue in many places. I did notice in my job searching years ago that essentially every FL dept asked for FL state certs in order to apply. How outside certs would transfer or reflect, it is tough to say, just that in reality, state law plays little in dept hiring for career depts.


What matters is what the dept asks for. If asking for nothing but 18, HS, driver license, then certs really don't matter because all recruits will go through the academy and get the same fire certifications. If a dept asks for certs, then the OP's question is moot because essentially the person with a degree doesn't have the certs, and thus, can't apply in the first place. In reality most people with an AS in Fire Science also have their fire certs.


In the fire service today, education is being looked upon more and more and if a degree is not asked for, many times extra points are given for having one. Since the question is about getting hired on the job, then subsequently the question should be which gives you the better chance of getting the job? A degree also tends to entail much more beyond fire certs, such as management, personalities/behavioral stuff, science, math etc. Essentially the job of the firefighter is broader than just the FF 1 and 2 certs and entails more than just those basics. If on a hiring panel, what do you think makes a candidate stand out more? Having a degree today is almost becoming an entry level mandate and in all actuality there is a greater focus on having a Bachelor's or higher for a management spot.


So going back to the OP's original question, it depends on what the dept asks for. In most cases if solely looking at certs or a degree as a determining factor, then most likely a degree with trump the certs. So in reality, all things being the same, it will come down to factors beyond the simplicity of the question. If it was me on a hiring panel, neither of those would be the deciding factor.

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