What is Fire Administration?

Fire services administrators supervise firefighters in fire departments, federal departments, and private entities. They work a variety of roles related to fire safety. Some of the responsibilities include managing finances, coordinating emergency responders, dealing with labor issues and administering fire safety regulations and procedures. Fire administrators also work in conjunction with fire house chiefs and other ranking personnel.

To be eligible for this position, you need to have experience as a firefighter or related job. A degree will bode well for your changes to become a fire safety administrator. Educational programs available include a bachelor’s degree in fire science or related major. This degree will improve your chances of joining the administrative ranks within a fire department. It may also boost your salary. The employment site, SimplyHired, reports the average salary for a Fire Administrator at $74,923 per year. Another employment site, ZipRecruiter, states that the average salary for a Fire Chief is $94,580.

A Fire Chief is just one position that provides administrative direction and leadership for all Fire Department functions, operations, and personnel through the supervision of staff and a review of their activities. This position is responsible for providing direction on major projects, reviewing how efficiently the fire department operates,  recognizing problems areas, and implementing procedures.

One job posting advertises that it the preferred candidate has a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Fire Science, Public Administration, Management, Business or a related field. Based on this premise, we will provide examples of undergraduate degrees in fire administration.

Bachelor of Science

This is the most common degree in the discipline of fire administration. The typical program studies all aspects of fire science, from the technical topics to emergency services management.

An online 120-credit degree in Fire Administration is available at Columbia Southern University. The Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) accredits this program. The major requirements’ portion has technical courses in Building Construction, Fire Protection Structure and Systems, and Fire Behavior and Combustion. Leadership courses are in Fire Service Personnel Management, Fire Prevention Organization and Management, and Terrorism Incident Management (an elective).

A program that concentrates on preparing upper-level administrators is Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) Distance Learning B.S. in Fire Administration. The management/leadership focus is evident in the study of public administration, budgeting, and finance, working with multiple levels of governance, and in a variety of political environments. You will also learn about legal issues, human resources, emergency management, effective communication (public speaking and writing skills), and the analysis and appropriate dissemination of information.

One example is BGSU’s course in the Political and Legal Foundations for Fire Protection. This course explores the legal issues affecting fire service and the political events that impact the profession. This includes a review of the American legal system, administrative matters, employment laws, and code enforcement.

Fire and Emergency Services Administration

This is another major delving into similar subjects. An example is s Colorado State University’s (CSU) online B.S. in Fire and Emergency Services Administration. The school attests that their coursework develops skills that are directly applicable to a leadership role. You will gain the knowledge and skills to work in:

  • Personnel Administration
  • Financial Management
  • Emergency Management
  • Program Evaluation

Course material includes fire and emergency service organizations. Students examine the roles and responsibilities of administrators, management and leadership theory and practices, and common administrative functions.

Emergency Services

This undergraduate degree can also offer classes for the aspiring fire administrator. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has a B.S. in Emergency Services with the choice of two specializations. One is in Aviation Emergency Management that, as the name implies, focuses on aviation safety, aircraft accident investigation, management of airport emergencies. The other area of concentration covers community risk, emergency response management and administration.

The Embry program has classes in many of the same subjects as the Columbia Southern program. The curriculum at Embry in #2 Specialization includes Fire Protection Structures, Fire Investigation, and Fire Research. The management related classes involve Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Personnel Management, Disaster Planning, and the Political and Legal Foundations of Fire Protection.

Different Degree Titles

As you conduct your research into appropriate bachelor’s programs in this field, do not be deterred by the degree’s title. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte offers a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Safety Engineering Technology. They state that their curriculum prepares students for increasingly responsible roles in leadership and management. Therefore, you should examine the curriculum of your prospective schools to see if it meets your career goals.

Additional Resources

Do I need a degree to be a Fire Inspector?

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Safety Engineer?

What Specializations are there in an Emergency Management Degree?

How much Science is in a Fire Science Degree?