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Fire Science

Industry Description
Every year, fires and other emergencies take thousands of lives and destroy property worth billions of dollars. Firefighters help protect the public against these dangers by rapidly responding to a variety of emergencies. They must be prepared to respond rapidly, regardless of the weather or hour. Firefighters have assumed a range of responsibilities, including emergency medical services; they rescue victims and provide emergency medical attention as needed, ventilate smoke-filled areas, and attempt to salvage the contents of buildings. They are frequently the first emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident or medical emergency and may be called upon to put out a fire, treat injuries, or perform other vital functions. Most calls to which firefighters respond involve medical emergencies, and about half of all fire departments provide ambulance service for victims. Firefighters receive training in emergency medical procedures, and many fire departments require them to be certified as emergency medical technicians (EMT). Firefighters work in a variety of settings, including urban and suburban areas, airports, chemical plants, other industrial sites, and rural areas like grasslands and forests. In addition, some firefighters work in hazardous materials units that are trained for the control, prevention, and cleanup of oil spills and other hazardous materials incidents.  

Department Overview
Fire Science provides students with the fundamental knowledge and skills required to function as an entry-level firefighter. EMT training is included as an essential component of the curriculum. The program is designed on a two-year rotational basis, with each new group of students beginning the program on even numbered years. Fire Science courses are taught through a combination of lecture and cooperative training. Many students volunteer with local fire departments to gain more hands-on practice of their skills. WWCC works closely with local fire departments, the EMS system, and the state association in order to offer a quality program, and curriculum is reviewed by an advisory board composed of these local, state and regional industry members. 

Degrees
Students may earn an Associate in Applied Arts and Sciences Degree in Fire Science upon completion of the two-year program of study. A Fire Science Certificate is available upon completion of the first year of the program. The first year prepares the student to take the Washington State Firefighter 1 Certificate Examination.

Career Opportunities
  • Firefighters
  • Fire Inspectors
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
  • Forest Service Firefighters
  • Forest Service Fire Inspectors
  • Forest Service Fire Prevention Specialists


Entrance Requirements
Students may begin their study in the Fire Science program in fall quarter of every even numbered year. Students who miss the fall enrollment period may take the EMT and general educational courses at any time and then take the fire related courses when the program begins again. A placement test offered by the Student Development Center must be completed prior to admittance to the program. Due to the nature of the work, students wishing to enroll in the Fire Science program must submit to a Washington State criminal background check.

Other Information
Students are encouraged to seek positions in the local student resident firefighter programs, in which lodging is provided in exchange for taking calls as a volunteer member of local fire agencies.

For additional information including regional employment data, completion rates, student characteristics, and employment see http://www.wtb.wa.gov/etp.