1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Improve my knowledge and desirability online?

    Hello, I have an extensive background in EMS but I am interested in joining the fire service.

    I think it would be good to have some fire education before applying, but I don't have access to any campus based fire science courses.

    I wanted to know if anyone has information about taking fire science courses online or as distance learning? I have never taken an online class before.

    I did a Google search but was a little confused by the results. University of Maryland has a good looking program, but many of the courses seemed advanced, I'm just looking for basic starter fire science courses.

    My plan is to eventually get an AS degree in Fire Science. What should I look for in an online institution? Are some "accredited" and some not? What would be the best classes to start off with? How do these classes work? Do I watch an instructor on the computer "live" or is it more reading and studying at your own speed and taking online tests?

    Will some classes from certain institutions look good on my resume, and will others secretly make the interviewer laugh "Another guy who wants to join fire just wasted his money."?

    Can anyone suggest a good online course, hopefully with a URL link? And how can I present this when applying for fire jobs?

    I'm in California.

    Thanks in advance,


  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Lumberton, NC


    I'd probly check out some of the volunteer stations in your area. At least in my area, they CONSTANTLY have something going in the way of basic FF1&2 classes. Not sure what the cost would be to someone no affiliated but it wouldn't hurt to contact someone from one of these departments and find out. Alot of volunteer stations have a problem keeping good help so I can't guarantee that they won't try to recruit you but that wouldn't be a bad thing either, free classes, free experience. Personally I'd steer clear of online fire classes till you have some experience under your belt. Nothing beats actually 'sitting' in a classroom eyeball to eyeball with an experienced instructor, not to mention most fire classes have practical tests (hands on) that go along with the class.

    hope that helps

  3. #3
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    Sparky68's Avatar
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    Aug 2006


    Good Question !!

    Man , the more I post here , the more I see people just like me asking the same questions....... Good deal.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Foggy California


    I'd probly check out some of the volunteer stations in your area. At least in my area, they CONSTANTLY have something going in the way of basic FF1&2 classes. Not sure what the cost would be to someone no affiliated but it wouldn't hurt to contact someone from one of these departments and find out.
    California doesn't work the same way east coast and midwest agencies do.

    In CA, all "official" certification is handled by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Pretty much, if you want an OFSM FF1 cert, you must attend an OFSM-accredited Fire Academy, which're run by the state's community college system, generally. CDF and a couple of larger departments (LA, LACo, maybe?) also run their own academies, however in the more rural areas, community college is the only way to get the OFSM FF1 training record signed off, which will after 6 months of F/T or one year of Volly/PCF time get you a FF1 certificate.
    Unfortunately, for someone unaffiliated, this situation sucks because:
    1) Priority for Academy scheduling is given to those who're affiliated with depts (volunteer or PCFs mostly). The handful of remaining slots (usually classes are no bigger than 35-40) are fought over like starving hounds at a bone.
    2) Cost--if unaffiliated, you must buy your own turnout and wildland gear (even the cheapie stuff will run you upwards of $1000 for both), PLUS tuition ...
    Here's a breakdown from Fresno City College Fire Academy:

    Costs include the basic college fees plus the cost of equipment as needed. The total cost will run about $2950.00, broken down as follows:

    24 units @ $26 per unit

    Health Fee

    Text Books


    Estimated Additional Costs:
    Approved safety boots


    Protective clothing

    Physical examination

    CSFM Certificates $50.00
    A slight relief is the fact that the Govinator just signed into law a package that lowers the state community college tuition by $6, now down to $20/unit.

    3) Academy format is either 9-10 hrs a day M-F and some Sat-Suns, or 6-10PM three days a week plus 10 hrs a day on every Sat-Sun. Either one is a challenge to work around unless you live w/ parents or a very supportive spouse and either don't work or have a job with an entirely flexible schedule.... the Academy schedule is not flexible, and you are only allowed to miss a handful of training hours (I think 16, maybe 24?) or you will not be certified and will have spent all that money for nothing.

    There does exist a "Certified Volunteer Firefighter" training program that individual departments may implement at the "in-house" level for volunteer/PCF personnel (and also results in a cert, though not FF1/2) however it seems that few departments implement it any more, preferring to send their people to actual OSFM-accredited FF1 academies.

    As for just regular "fire science" classes for an Associate's Degree, those're easily obtained... I believe both Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias offer some Fire Science classes in an online format. I believe they offer at least Intro to Fire Protection Org and a couple other "basic" classes...but I don't think they have all the classes necessary for an ASFS degree online yet.

    Sorry if it sounds like I'm raining on your parade, but believe me as someone who's being here, doing this, trying to make ends meet and advance my Fire and EMS education that once you're out in the world working full-time, paying bills, and trying to make ends meet, getting into an Academy (PD or FD) or Paramedic program and making it work is pretty damn hard to do on your own.

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