A master’s degree in fire enhances a bachelor’s degree in a related field. It also complements experience in a fire department, fire protection, fire investigation, and leadership in an emergency management role.
Current professionals in the field of fire safety will learn about finance, performance evaluation, and management techniques. Also, through different areas of specialization, individuals can advance in their existing career in this field and obtain the knowledge to branch into another aspect of emergency services.
Individuals who want to earn a leadership position in emergency services at the local, state or federal level of government are suitable candidates. Alternatively, they may assume a more technical role in fire engineering, fire protection, or arson/incident investigation.
Whether you are a firefighter moving up the ranks or fire chief or commander, you will gain the knowledge to boost your career in leadership positions. A master’s degree may provide the impetus to seek a higher place on the management/leadership scale.
Fire Protection Engineering
A Master of Science in this major is for the science-minded individual who has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, engineering technology, or the physical sciences. During the undergraduate program, master’s applicants should be familiar with the science of heat transfer, thermodynamics, and mathematics, particularly calculus.
You can take the above program online or on campus at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The ten courses (30 credit hours) cover Fire Dynamics, Fire Modeling, Explosion Protections, Industrial Fire Protection, as well as additional electives.
Executive Fire Administration
This concentration is part of a Master of Arts in Public Safety Leadership and Administration. Students pursuing the Executive Fire Administration (EFA) degree will provide the knowledge to excel in fire administration. You will know how to handle budgeting, finance, management, and issues related to policies. The online EFA curriculum (33 credit hours) at Arizona State University includes classes typical of similar programs. You can expect to learn about how to budget for a department, the nuances of handling financial matters, how to assess emergency services resources, and allocation of fire safety personnel.
This concentration is usually contained within a Master of Fire Science program. This option may interest students already involved in or plan to work in the forensics of fire science. You should have an aptitude for chemistry, as courses will study the laboratory analysis of a fire scene and the accelerants used in arson. You will graduate with the expertise to analyze the flammable materials and their explosive properties.
You will also study arson from the legal perspective. You explore the criminal justice system as it relates to the investigation and legal process involved in proving arson.
Fire Science and Engineering
Case Western Reserve University’s School of Engineering has a master’s degree in Fire Science and Engineering. This year-long program in fire protection engineering has two options. There is a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering or a Master of Science in Macromolecular Science and Engineering (Track II), both with a concentration in Fire Science.
Regardless of your choice, the coursework immerses you in chemistry and engineering. You will need a strong aptitude for science. The track II elective has several courses with the name polymer in them. You will study the chemical and physical properties of polymers. A polymer, simply stated, is “a compound of high molecular weight.” (dictionary.com)
Fire and Emergency Sciences
This combination is a marriage of the technical issues of fire science and the leadership skills required in emergency planning and response. A Master of Science in Fire and Emergency Sciences (University of Florida) offers an Emergency Services/Disaster Management (ES/DM) specialty. This program will benefit individuals currently working in or plan to work in emergency management. The material covers hazard mitigation, preparation, and recovery from disasters, and security issues.
The majority of the courses relate to handling emergency events. These events can be natural or human-made disasters. Regardless of the sources, you will graduate with the proficiency to administer and delegate personnel to deal with catastrophic occurrences affecting the community and its residents.
Why an Advanced Degree?
Fire Rescue Magazine addressed this question ten years ago in January 2008. They stated that a higher education degree is essential for promotion. If you aspire to be a fire department chief or other levels of command, the additional education in a bachelor’s or master’s degree will benefit your leadership skills. Also, the article emphasizes that all firefighters and emergency personnel join professional organizations and attend conferences.