Are schools for firefighters free?
Firefighting, as we all know, is a profession whose activity aims to save lives and property at risk from a fire outbreak and to ensure public safety, which makes it an essential service that requires rigorous training and skills.
The risk firefighters take for their lives and personal safety leads some to wonder if schools, institutions, or academies responsible for training firefighters offer free classes for their training and certification of individuals who perform this emergency service.
If you are interested in finding out if schools offer free classes for firefighters, what the criteria are for applying, and which academies offer intensive fire safety, fire prevention, and certification training, this article has the information you need.
However, before we go into that let us begin with the basics of who a firefighter is.
Who are Firefighters?
The word “firefighter” describes a person trained to respond to, extinguish, and rescue lives and property from fire outbreaks, hazardous situations, and emergencies.
It is expected that he or she has gone through courses, training, a degree program, a fire academy, or a fire school and is equipped with the adequate knowledge of a firefighter.
Firefighter I is for those equipped with basic and peripheral knowledge in the field of fire protection and the fire service while Firefighter II is the certification given to those who have advanced and deeper knowledge in the field.
Now to an often argued question.
Should tuition for firefighters be free?
From the good work they do, should the schools for firefighters be free?
There is quite a great risk to personal safety while undertaking the act of firefighting so some argue that receiving training in the profession should be free or low cost to volunteers.
Others opined that firefighting is a life-saving profession, and Medical students pay for training in that field therefore, firefighters should.
However, there are some institutions of the opinion that anyone who decides to become a Volunteer firefighter and is eligible in some cases, can get free training, education, and tuition as they learn fire science professionally.
This makes continuing education and certification available to volunteer firefighters who take up the decision to join the fire service and take courses that will equip them to become an addition to any local fire department they find themselves.
These schools and programs are in some states. Let us take a look at some programs that offer and support free firefighter education, highlighting the criteria for eligibility.
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What are the schools & programs that offer free tuition to firefighters
These academies and programs make provision for tuition available to any student eligible and interested in receiving training in a firefighter academy.
Some of these schools for firefighters include:
The NFA, based in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is the nation’s most prestigious education, training, and fire department administration institution.
It was founded in 1979 with the goal of providing in-depth training in all aspects of firefighting, including instructional and support programs for firefighting technology and its public administration.
There is no tuition cost to students for any course offered at the National Fire Academy.
Students from active fire organizations recognized fire departments, state or local governments and a tribal nation also have their transportation and lodging costs covered under the Student Stipend Reimbursement Program.
Curricula Programs offered include courses on Fire Prevention: Public Education, Hazardous Materials, Emergency Medical Services, and Fire Prevention Management among others.
Criteria For Eligibility
Courses offered are either online or on-campus and the basic qualification required is that you are involved in any aspect of fire prevention and control, fire administration, and emergency services.
For each course though, there are selection criteria peculiar to them.
This program require that all students complete Incident Command System (ICS) 100 and ICS 200 level training prior to applying for any course.
In essence, NFA offers free tuition to eligible and interested students including provision for transportation and lodging costs in some cases.
Check out their website for additional information about the NFA admissions and study information.
FASNY came up with the plan to provide tuition to volunteer students due to a need to encourage more individuals to serve voluntarily in the fire service of New York and the need for recruitment in volunteer fire departments,
Founded in 1872, FASNY is in charge of providing education, training, service, and support for the volunteer fire and emergency service entirely in New York State.
They make provision for every student who is an active volunteer to get their entire tuition reimbursed in full.
The coverage goes out to attendees of any New York chartered college including The State University of New York and not just physical but also online courses through Empire State College without any restrictions on the course of choice.
Personally, I see this as a welcome development as it will encourage volunteers to go all out in their study and improvement of knowledge in fire science as well as gain certification with little or no cost implications to them.
Criteria For Eligibility
The basic ground for eligibility is being a volunteer firefighter in the state of New York.
You also have to apply to an institution recognized as a New York State chartered college, not just any random school in any state.
It is also important to have in mind that every semester tuition is under the $1,500 mark because that is how much FASNY reimburses per semester.
Early application is advised because there is a limited number of students accepted to the program and if the number of estimated applications is exceeded, the rest is determined by lottery.
Basically, FASNY offers a total reimbursement program to student volunteers all across New York to recruit, retain and equip more individuals in the state’s workforce development.
To find out more about their programs, membership, and additional resources, check out the FASNY website for more information.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board developed this program to provide assistance to students interested in studying Fire science-related courses in the state of Texas.
The qualified beneficiaries enjoy an exemption from payment of tuition fees and also laboratory fees for some particular courses in Fire Science.
The application process is determined by the particular institution of choice and it is noteworthy that the courses are those that do not rely on students’ tuition to bear the cost so in-depth research is necessary.
This is a very great opportunity for volunteer firefighters to gain assistance with the burdens of tuition and cost of laboratory fees as well.
It will increase the study rate and the number of firefighters with degrees in college-level courses enhancing their knowledge and providing relevant education in fire science technology.
Criteria For Eligibility
To be eligible for exemption from paying tuition and lab fees, the person applying must be a paid and employed firefighter of the state of Texas or a functioning member of a volunteer fire department with at least one certification.
You must be enrolled in a minimum of one fire service course and meet the GPA requirement for the institution of study.
To keep on receiving exemptions, you must ensure to meet all the requirements in eligibility and satisfactory academic progress.
Overall, it may be said that the College For All Texans program serves as a means of providing relief to volunteer firefighters through exemption from paying tuition in any community college or institution that offers fire science courses.
Additional information can be found on their website.
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The ALISON program under ADU offers free courses on maritime fire prevention to students and individuals that are willing to participate in studying firefighting prevention and equipment on board ships.
This program offers training via organized modules and well-structured courses that are directed at giving those who undergo the courses in-depth knowledge of all they need to know about fire protection, prevention, management, and fire technology.
To pass for certification, one must score 80% or higher in each course assessment. Certification is given upon completion and three types of certificates are given Digital Certificates, Physical Certificates, and Framed Certificates.
All courses offered by Alison are free to apply, study, and get certified at the end of successfully completing the duration required for the courses.
Asides from the ones discussed above, here’s a list of free schools for firefighters
- THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK (SUNY)
- NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS COLLEGE
- DALLAS COUNTY COLLEGE
- Alamo Colleges (ACCD)
- NORTHEAST LAKEVIEW COLLEGE
- NORTHWEST VISTA COLLEGE
- PALO ALTO COLLEGE
- SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE
- ST PHILLIPS COLLEGE
- DREAM CHARTER SCHOOL
- THE ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL UNIONDALE
- ALVIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
- AMERICAN DIGITAL UNIVERSITY
To get additional information on the schools above and the firefighting courses offered, click on them to go to their official websites and find out more.
An important part also is the duration of the firefighting course which leads us to the question below.
How long do firefighting courses last?
This largely depends on the particular institution, course outline, and modules. There is no generally fixed duration for courses to last all across the institutions.
The National Fire Academy has some self-study courses that you take at your pace based on how much time you can allocate to studying daily. There are also online instructor-led courses that span a period of 4-6 weeks. Live courses are also offered via zoom on two specific days for 8 hours weekly.
This is designed to ensure that there is the ease in adapting to the training and teaching particularly as it is in an online environment.
However, the average program for a firefighting course can span up to a duration of 3 – 4 months depending as said above, on the institution specifically and the courses offered.
What qualifications do firefighters need?
Having seen the institutions, programs, and academies where education for firefighters is available for free, it’s important to know the general qualifications required.
A basic requirement is that you have achieved grades 9 to 4 in Math and English in the GCSE examination or an equivalent level 2 qualification (e.g. a vocational qualification). You’ll be required to provide evidence of your qualifications as part of the application process.
There is also a need to be of sound health and fitness. Your eyesight, hearing, and senses have to be on point and agile due to the nature of the job. It is, therefore, necessary to have undergone a general fitness and medical checkup to be sure.
However, check with your local fire station and department for specific requirements, as they can be different due to location and other factors.
In conclusion, I hope this helps in your quest for schools for firefighters that offer free tuition. It is important to run additional personal research into any school of choice to gather more details.
It is essential to consider the location, and curricula and visit the school if possible to ensure it suits you and is in an environment that will enable growth and preparation for being a professional firefighter.
Go through the lists above and visit the websites as well to find out more about the online courses and if that will be a more suitable option when compared to the physical institutions.
Best of luck.