Fire Chief: Lessons Learned Climbing the Ladder

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These degrees and certificates offer expanded knowledge for those firefighters who are already focused on hands-on training. Depending upon the degree level, students will take courses that focus strictly on a variety of firefighting techniques and required knowledge, or they will take an expanded curriculum that introduces them to management, leadership, and business concepts.

Certificate programs for firefighters go by many names, but the most common are fire science or fire technology. The focus is on providing students with the basic knowledge necessary to understand how fire moves and feeds and the tools needed to best combat it in a variety of situations. Most certificate programs take one year or less to complete.

Below are several courses that students may expect to find in a typical program. This course explores the history of fire services, the various career paths available, laws and regulations, basic fire protections and working with the public in emergency situations. Focuses on the laws that govern firefighting, statues and regulations that govern potential actions, and best practices for legal protections in the course of performing job duties.

This course examines how fires act in different environments, how flames spread and react to firefighting actions, and the aftermath of a fire loss. A look at the building codes designed to prevent or help fight fires, including detailed information on inspections, insurance implications, and financial issues. An associate degree typically takes two years to complete. Either option will offer students a solid overview of the world of firefighting. Here are a few courses students may expect to see in the catalog.

Focuses on the potential actions of terrorist groups and the expected and appropriate response from emergency services personnel. An overview of hazardous materials and how to control or contain them using typical firefighting methods. This class teaches students how to handle a situation in which a person is trapped in a vehicle. It includes an overview of tools and proper techniques. Focuses on decisions that must be made quickly when dealing with wildfires that threaten urban or populated areas. These degrees are often more specialized, allowing students to focus on one particular aspect of firefighting or emergency services.

For instance, there are degrees in fire protection administration, arson and explosion investigation, fire protection and safety engineering technology, and fire service management, among others. This course emphasizes the relationship between government agencies and the fire service, explores ethics and leadership, and touches on the administrative points of running a successful firehouse. This class focuses on hiring and firing decisions, understanding unions, deciding the placement of firefighters and emergency workers during active calls, and laws concerning employment.

Students obtain hands-on training working in the field, either at a controlled fire or accident or through a typical day at a firehouse. They also participate in planned drills. This course targets the physical aspects of firefighting, including physical conditioning segments, agility tests, the use of protective clothing and gear, and developing stamina while in the field. It is ideal for those who are already working in the field and want to enhance their hiring or advancement opportunities. This course focuses on the current issues facing homeland security, new policies and practices, and how those changes are shaped by various influencers.

Students in this course learn what it takes to manage expenses, budget, complete financial statements and understand the financial environment of the fire service. This course looks at setting up a crisis response in the aftermath of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or large-scale accident. This focuses on the various ways to solve labor and personnel conflicts, from those that occur between firefighters to larger issues with unions or legislators. Some degree programs may offer academic concentrations relevant to one or more of these jobs.


  • Reward Yourself;
  • SOP warning after firefighter falls to death from aerial ladder.
  • Différentes saisons (French Edition).
  • Day 2 Day: Be Great!

Firefighters respond to fires, handle emergency situations, and protect life and property. The job is definitely exciting, but it also comes with a high element of risk. Constant training and preparation can help mitigate the risks for firefighters and their local communities. They keep tabs on weather conditions and report forest fires to the proper departments. Those with a strong knowledge of building codes and attention to detail might like working as a building inspector. These professionals look at buildings to determine their safety, structural soundness and compliance with a variety of regulations.

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Their inspections might be general or very specific. Future building inspectors may want to shortlist potential fire safety degree programs with targeted courses in fire and safety codes. In the event of a suspicious fire, an arson investigator collects evidence, eyewitness accounts and other information to determine what might have caused the fire, and, furthermore, who might have been responsible. These investigators work closely with police departments and other authorities. Becoming an emergency medical technician, or EMT, is a requirement for most firefighters.

Those who truly love the work might invest in additional training to become a paramedic. Paramedics respond to emergencies, assess injuries, treat patients at the scene and transport them for further medical care. Firefighters must have certain skills and traits in order to do well in the job.

They must also have a strong knowledge of the tools and technology necessary to keep things running smoothly. Firefighters are expected to handle heavy equipment, often in dangerous and adverse conditions. They might be on their feet for hours, crawling through small space, climbing ladders and stairs, and otherwise putting their bodies to the test. Firefighters must be able to communicate events and concerns accurately and succinctly, especially in situations when lives are at stake. In an emergency situation, firefighters must be able to make good decisions very quickly — even if those choices are very difficult ones.

The ability to make the best decisions given the information they have is vitally important. Firefighters face dangerous situations every day, and each emergency call can bring surprises. They must have the courage and fortitude to tackle each call, keeping the safety of their team in mind. Those who become firefighters are interested in serving others.

Graduates of fire science programs might also go on to a career as a correctional officer, emergency medical technician, paramedic, police officer, or security guard. Women are often underrepresented in firehouses and emergency services. This organization works to remedy that. A service of the U. Fire Administration, the Academy is home to several training programs, including online classes, designed to benefit firefighters across the U.

The USFA website highlights training, continuing education, operations, fire prevention and pertinent data resources for current and potential firefighters.

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Choosing a fire science or EMT program can be tough. This search tool lets students review various credentials and programs available in their state so that they can identify those that fit them best. You're about to search for degree programs related to a career that you are researching. It's important to recognize that a degree may be required for a career or increase your chances of employment but it is not a guarantee of employment when you complete your degree.

Was this page helpful? Firefighter Careers Basics Firefighters receive expert training that prepares them to handle a variety of emergency situations. Firefighter Careers In-Depth Though the work they do is often very much in the public eye, there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work as well.

West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming. Employed Firefighters. I am ready to move into firefighting but I recognize that I need a lot of knowledge in order to pass all those tests. I want to go into management and eventually retire as a fire chief. I am a seasoned firefighter, but I want to do more.

I really enjoy homeland security work and I am considering the leap to a federal position--one that would allow me to venture into more exciting professional work. I am pretty sure I want to be a firefighter. I need an educational route that will give me a great deal of knowledge fast.

Community College. Principles of Fire and Emergency Services This course explores the history of fire services, the various career paths available, laws and regulations, basic fire protections and working with the public in emergency situations.

Skills Gained An understanding of the firefighting culture Comparing emergency responses Understanding best practices for response Grasp of regulations and laws that govern the work of firefighters. The Legalities of Fire Protection Focuses on the laws that govern firefighting, statues and regulations that govern potential actions, and best practices for legal protections in the course of performing job duties.

Fire Investigation and Analysis This course examines how fires act in different environments, how flames spread and react to firefighting actions, and the aftermath of a fire loss. Fire Code Enforcement A look at the building codes designed to prevent or help fight fires, including detailed information on inspections, insurance implications, and financial issues.

Skills Gained Understanding building codes Proper building inspection Bringing buildings up to code Knowing how codes affect insurance rates. Terrorism Management Focuses on the potential actions of terrorist groups and the expected and appropriate response from emergency services personnel.

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Skills Gained An understanding of the various threats Knowing how to handle the public in an emergency Steps to take when formulating an emergency response on a large scale. Hazardous Materials Awareness An overview of hazardous materials and how to control or contain them using typical firefighting methods. Skills Gained Knowing how to respond to an incident Understanding public safety measures and techniques Proper scene surveying Knowing the standard operating procedures for responder safety.

Very few people have that ability. That priority is a switch from the s, when the best firefighter got to be chief, he says. The department has changed measurably from its days as "an old boys' club," says Forte, who now works with the city's emergency preparedness team. Eighty-three of the fire department's plus firefighters now are women, the highest ratio of women to men in any fire department in the country. Several women have climbed the ladder to captain and other leadership roles.

Women's successes in the department have given Bleskachek and others the boost that she says paved the way for her to become chief. Her rise to the top and an ability to burst through barriers is partly a result of her own hard work in pushing respect for diversity. For 15 years, she co-chaired the department's cultural awareness committee. In a year as human resources officer, enforcing equality was part of her job. But this new woman chief isn't all business. She brings personal integrity, thoughtfulness and "a quiet air of competence" to her top job, says Kathleen Mullen, a captain in the department.

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Her executive side meshes with a woman's touch that Bleskachek says women before her brought with them into a macho work culture. Ask her about her most valued experiences as a firefighter, and she tells of nurturing small children in a crisis. Delve into her past, and a deep history emerges of rising to the top, navigating male culture and breaking barriers along the way.

Bonnie Bleskachek grew up as the oldest of five sisters in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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She was a child who seldom slowed down or spent much time indoors. Most of her friends, she says, were boys. The young Bleskachek was captain of the school safety patrol and played every sport she could baseball, softball, volleyball and football. Track was her favorite, probably because a personal-best sport suited her introverted nature, she says. Halfway through high school, she broke new ground when she came out as gay.

But she was first in her school of about 1, students to take that step. A teacher took the matter to the school board. But among her peers, she says, her announcement didn't make much of a ripple. Chalk it up to respect. Her decision to come out had less to do with courage than a sense of equality and justice.

Or if something's not being accepted. When did she know she was gay? Her biggest concern about coming out was about how talk at school might affect the sister who was just a year younger.

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After high school, Bleskachek enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to study anthropology and religion. When student loan funds began drying up, she took a career aptitude test that pointed her to firefighting. In , she became the 10th woman hired by the Minneapolis Fire Department.

She joined the department's first all-woman crew, which remains a high point in her career. Her crew captain was Jean Kidd, her most valued mentor and "a trailblazer" for all women in the department, Bleskachek says. I can't even understand some of what she went through, because she changed it," Bleskachek says. The department's jump from zero to 83 women in 18 years is remarkable, she says, particularly considering the job's emphasis on physical strength and fitness that firefighting and rescue work require.

Kidd brought an opportunity to acknowledge emotion in a historically all-male fire department where a macho facade covered firemen's gentler side, Bleskachek says. They wouldn't take the job if they weren't. They don't do it to get rich or famous. But the culture of firefighting is strong.