College credit for firefighter training
This question came up on one of the recurring college degree threads – can I get college credit for my fire training/experience?
Short answer – probably not for initial certification training.
Generally, a state agency regulates local fire service training/certification. The “Pro-Board” - National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications was created as part of the NFPA’s professional qualification standards for firefighters (NFPA Standard 1001, 1041, 1021, etc.) http://www.theproboard.org/ They have been around since the 1970’s. In general, only state training programs (or their delegated authorities) have ProBoard certification.
Harrisburg Area Community College (in Pennsylvania http://www.hacc.edu/PROGRAMS/Career/...ci_aa6630.html ) is the only college with it's own ProBoard certification. It is the result of meeting a special need within the commonwealth.
A second, Oklahoma State University based, organization also accredits fire service training. Created in 1991, the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress was formed because colleges and universities educate beyond state borders. http://www.ifsac.org/
The Department of Defense is one of the largest purchasers of fire service certification training. They require that the vendor providing the service be either Pro Board or IFSAC accredited.
The requirements to provide training that is ProBoard or IFSAC accredited is important but NOT THE SAME as requirements for education that leads to college credit.
THERE ARE FIVE ELEMENTS THAT MUST BE IN PLACE TO MAKE FIRE TRAINING ELIGIBLE FOR COLLEGE CREDIT.
1) The fire training is similar/identical to a college course of study. For example, some colleges offer a hazardous materials course that prepares the student to take the certification exam/skills to meet the NFPA 472 requirements for Hazardous Material Technician.
2) The instructor meets the academic requirements of the college. The minimum requirement is established by the regional accreditation organization. For example, Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. http://www.sacs.org/
SACS minimum: Faculty teaching associate degree courses not designed for transfer to the baccalaureate degree: bachelor’s degree in the teaching discipline, or associate’s degree and demonstrated competencies in the teaching discipline.
NVCC requires: For occupational/technical positions, a Bachelor’s degree with a major in the discipline to be taught and 2 years of full-time related occupational experience are required.
3) The delivery of the fire training is in an academically appropriate environment. A wide-ranging requirement that includes test integrity, a course syllabus/document that is consistent with the college course, appropriate classroom space and educational materials. I used to teach fire science classes at an industrial fire station where the classroom area was the kitchen table. No audiovisual resources and constant interruptions by others using the kitchen. We no longer teach college classes at that facility.
4) The fire training course meets the educational objectives of the college course. A three-semester hour college course represents 48 instructor-student class contact hours in a lecture format. Firefighter (and paramedic) skills sessions are considered lab classes. Lab time does not count much towards the class contact hours (4 hours of lab time a week = 64 lab hours a semester = 1 semester hour of credit).
5) There is an academically valid end-of-course evaluation instrument. A final exam.
Some colleges use appropriately qualified instructors, such as a state-certified hazmat instructor with a bachelor degree, to deliver a class that concludes with BOTH state certification and college credit.
PREEXISTING CREDIT FOR FIRE TRAINING
Some fire training organizations have had their courses evaluated by the American Council of Education. http://www.acenet.edu/ They publish a huge National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs that lists college level credits for training programs.
Go to http://www.acenet.edu/clll/corporate...ating_orgs.cfm
Note that the following fire service organizations are on the list.
Fire and Rescue Training Institute, University of Missouri
Fire Department of New York City
Georgia Fire Academy
Illinois Fire Science Institute
International Association of Fire Fighters
Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute
National Emergency Training Center (EMI)
National Emergency Training Center (NFA)
New York State Academy of Fire Science
Texas Engineering Extension Service
U.S. Army Safety Center, The Texas A&M University, Texas Engineering Extension Service
If you take ACE accredited classes from these organizations, they can send a transcript of your training to your college for credit consideration. For example, the old two-week residential NFA Chemistry of Hazardous Materials program was evaluated by ACE as a four-credit science-with-lab course. Some NVCC students were able to use that course to satisfy the science requirement for their AAS Fire Science degree.
LIFE EXPERIENCE PORTFOLIO
Many colleges and universities provide an opportunity for the adult (over 25 years old) learner to apply prior training, experience, jobs, etc. in place of college classes. The general model is that the student will register for a course where he/she will develop a lifetime portfolio. The goal is to demonstrate that you have satisfied the course requirements through your life experiences.
In most cases, you will still have to register and pay tuition for the college classes you are "writing out of."
Michael J. Ward, MGA, MIFireE
The George Washington University and
Northern Virginia Community College
Mike, Thanks for going to the trouble of getting, and posting, That information. I had a list from MFRI around the office (buried under something, I guess) and, accordingly, I have about 35 credits toward an Associates degree. (If I read everything correctly) While I don't expect to pursue a degree, it's good to know that the credit is available.
MFRI and the College of Southern Maryland
The College of Southern Maryland and MFRI have partnered to offer an Fire Science Technology associate degree:
This program is a partnership between the College of Southern Maryland (which provides the general education courses) and Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) which provides the technical courses at sites in Southern Maryland. Credits for the MFRI courses will be transferred into the college based upon the recommendation of the American Council of Education as published in the current edition of the National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs.
The maximum number of credits accepted in transfer from other institutions to this program is 45.
REQUIRED OCCUPATIONAL COURSES OFFERED THROUGH MARYLAND FIRE AND RESCUE INSTITUTE:
Number Title Credits
FST 1110 Firefighter I 3
FST 1120* Firefighter II 2
FST 1130 Building Construction:Non Combustible Fire Resistance 1
FST 1140 Building Construction: Principles of Wood/ Ordinary Construction 1
FST 1150 Hazardous Materials Operations 1
FST 1160 Pump Operator 1
FST 1170 Fireground Operations I 1
FST 1180 Truck Company Operations 1
FST 2000 Firefighter Safety and Survival 1
FST 2010 Incident Command System 1
FST 2020 Rescue Technician 3
FST 2120 Fire Officer I 4
College of Southern Maryland homepage: http://www.csm.cc.md.us/
Link to get to Fire Technology program: http://www.csmd.edu/academics/catalo...2-2004/F-Z.pdf
(this opens to a thirty page, 157 KB Adobe Acrobat file listing many programs - page 1 is fire science technology)
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