Formal Education, ie. College Degrees. Where do They Belong in the Fire Service? How Much Should they be Considered?

Okay, a new one. Formal education has been a hot topic for the fire service in recent years and is more accessible with more programs and online access. At what level is a formal education or degree in fire service a must and what is the future of mandates for these degrees? Are business degrees useful for fire officers or should only fire related degrees be accepted? Where do masters degrees and above suit themselves in our profession?

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Unfortunately that is the way of the world these days. If you want to advance you have to have the degree. I can't speak for everywhere, however a great number of departments that surround mine REQUIRE a B.A, B.S., or whatever to even take the promotional exam, and it will probably become worse. Thanks mom & dad for making me finish college!!!

In some places in Northern California they require a B.S to test for FIREFIGHTER!!!! granted that is Palo Alto where Stanford University is,..but none the less!

SHould it be required? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh heck not for me to say. However in most cases, it shows that you have "finished" something. Many degrees have managerial type classes attached to them. Some think it shows you can work with a variety of others in a variety of different settings.

Should 22 years on the street count...He** yes!

I always kinda liken this to the "butter bar" LT. in the army, who turns to the 20 year Sarge to get things done!
Great feedback and I appreciate all of the contributions. I know that there are larger issues to address in the fire service, but these are interesting to learn what others in different parts of the country are doing. Thanks for the great answers.

The import is not what makes the discussion valid. It is the information needed, gained or given. What I find more and more are the great differences in training, hiring, attitudes, promotions from across the country, and in some cases the world for what is virtually the same job.

I agree. I value the differences in how things are done in different areas of the country. This is a valuable resource for the fire service. I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge and years of experience that are here for the taking.
From my personal experience in the volunteer world -- I don't think it needs to be required, nor do I believe that special benefits should automatically be given to those posessessing a degree (other than perhaps Paramedic) -- but what I do believe strongly in is that education is something to be respected.

For the past three years, I've worked my way through my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a focus in Pre-Law, wrote my senior thesis, and received two offers to attend law school --- and at the firehouse, I've been in the Top 5 responders and have attained 7 state certifications. Now, not to toot my own horn, but that seems like quite a bit to handle, am I correct? Anytime someone discusses school, it always revolves back on how my education is a waste of time, and that it means nothing (and that goes for my fire service education too!!).
For an entry level firefighter (the troops on the ground), I don't beleive it's such a big issue.

However as you advance up the food chain, I beleive it becomes more of an issue. You're no longer dealing with putting the wet stuff on the red stuff- you're more deailing with HR issues, budgets, business management, etc. The achievement of degrees is most definitely important in today's world when dealing with this stuff.

We're being managed in many instances by boffins with no firefighting experience- we need to be able walk each side of the fence and dance with these people- talk the talk, think like them, and use our street skills to counter them as required, etc.
I think a formal education is a MUST for all firefighters. Especially everyone who has come on the job in the last 5 years, AND if they are a company officer. When I got on the job I already had my B.S. in Psychology and Criminal Justice, but it wasn't good enough for my department (used to have a pay incentive if you had a degree in Fire Science). However, my time in college helped me hone my research and critical thinking skills. I use those skills all the time. Whether I'm trouble shooting a patient on EMS runs or researching about new building ventilation methods, those skills are handy. However, the main reason I'm replying on this thread is because I'm looking for a Masters degree program that relates to the Fire Service. I haven't been able to really find one on-line. Does anyone have any recommendations? Has anyone completed one and would recommend it?
I have been in the fire service for almost 18 years, and have heard of a few departments in Central Florida that will not even look at your application unless you have a A.S. Degree. Last year while attending Fire Rescue East in Jacksonville, I entered a drawing for a scholorship for a A.S. Degree from Keiser University. Two days later I received a phone call from them saying that I was awarded the scholorship. It is all online courses and take two years to complete. When I graduated high school many moons ago, I started to work on my degree, but life took over and school fell to the way side. I was estatic at the chance to be able to attain something that I had always wanted. Sure some people say it is just a piece of paper in the end but I look at it as more then that. What I have learned while going through this endevour is that all of the core classes automatically get sent to the State Fire College and count as credits for their classes. Hell, when I get finished with my degree, all I have to do is go sit for the tests and will come out of this with my FO I, Inspector I, Fire Service Instructor I & II, and be one class away from Investigator I. To me this will be invaluable. Sure I could go sit for each class individually to gain the certs, but I feel that I am killing two birds with one stone here.

I guess that it also comes down to the mindset of the individual. If they are looking for promotion to the higher ranks of the department, or they are happy being a hose dragger. I know that I am totally content with pulling hose, but also know that later on, being a Chief Officer could be a possability and getting up in age, hose draggin won't be as easy as it was when I joined years ago.

As to the type of degree, I think that business management would be a popular one for the higher ups because they are the ones who have to deal with budgets and money issues from the cities or counties they are working for.
Hey! I'm glad to see my Favorite Ladd's are back from the flames. ALRIGHTY THEN!

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