The Fire Science Technology Program at Volunteer State Community College helps firefighters meet future challenges. This includes making sound decisions and correct choices. Vol State focuses on the critical thinking and problem solving skills not learned in training or on the job. Students can acquire a broader base of knowledge, and a new perspective on the fire service profession.

The world is moving fast, and no group in any profession is moving faster for progress and survival than the American Fire Service. As the American Fire Service moves into the future, it must prepare and ensure that firefighters are provided with the needed training and education to carry out its mission and provide the level of service that communities deserve. Caught in the middle of this movement is the Fire Science Technology Program at Volunteer State Community College.

Degree Advancement Program Agreement with MTSU

MTSU and Vol State have developed an AAS-to-BS program to allow students who earn an Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science Technology at Vol State to transfer the majority of those credits to MTSU toward the completion of a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. This degree is offered through MTSU's University College in cooperation with the Tennessee Board of Regents.

MTSU provides a wealth of information about Degree Advancement Program on their website; including an information sheet about Fire Science Technology.

History of Fire Service

In 1873, Captain Eyre Massey Shaw, the first and most famous chief officer of the London Fire Brigade, wrote this after visiting several fire departments in the United States:

When I was in America it struck me forcibly that although most of the chiefs were intelligent and zealous in their work, not one that I met even made the pretension to the kind of professional knowledge, which I consider so essential. Indeed one went so far as to say that the only way to learn the business of a fireman was to go to fires . . . a statement about as monstrous and as contrary to reason as if he said that the only way to become a surgeon would be to commence cutting off limbs, without any knowledge of anatomy or of the implements required.

There is no such short cut to proficiency in any profession, and the day will come when your fellow countrymen will be obliged to open their eyes to the fact that if a man learns the business of a fireman only by attending fires, he must of necessity learn it badly, and that even what he does pick up and may seem to know, he will know imperfectly, and be incapable of imparting to others.

I consider the business of a fireman a regular profession requiring previous study and training as other professions do; and I am convinced that where study and training are omitted, and men are pitch forked into the practical work without preparation, the fire department will never be capable of dealing satisfactorily with great emergencies. (pp. 110-111)

Captain Shaw recognized the need for training and education in the American fire service. If the fire service is to survive well into the 21st century, fire departments will need to develop and invest in training and educating the next generation of potential leaders. Failure to adequately address the issue of training and education requirements for promotion will result in fire suppression personnel being promoted with the lack of knowledge, skills, and abilities to be effective or successful.

The fire service has continued to grow in complexity over the years, and therefore, the professional development and training needs of fire suppression personnel have increased. The training and educational requirements will continue to increase because of the increase in responsibilities. In the future, working toward enhancing the fire service professional image will be done by increasing the training and educational requirements at every position. According to Bachtler & Brennan (1995):

The fire service has evolved from an organization whose single responsibility was fire suppression to an emergency services organization that provides fire suppression, fire prevention, fire code enforcement, fire investigation, fire inspection, emergency medical services (basic and advanced life support), hazardous materials mitigation, and specialized rescue operations (urban search and rescue, wilderness search and rescue, high angle rescue, confined space rescue, and trench collapse). With these increased responsibilities come some of the greatest response challenges in our history. (p. 311)

Many view professional development as the key to our present and to our future. This development occurs when the fire service increases the training and education standards of fire suppression personnel. According to Clark (2001) " We must include reading and writing through-out our training, education and practice from entry level to top scholar/practitioner to achieve these standards and increase our professionalism" (p. 10).

There will come a day that will be the biggest of your life, when you rescue somebody. Hopefully, Volunteer State will have prepared you to successfully meet that challenge.

Sources

Bachtler, J. R., & Brennan, T. F. (Eds.). (1995). The Fire Chiefs Handbook, Chapters 9&10, Saddle Brook, NJ: Pennwell Publishing Company.

Clark, B. A. Ed. D. (2001, October). Reading and Writing Equal Professionalism, The Voice, 30, 10.

Shaw, E. M. (1873, July). Records of the late London fire-engine establishment. North American Review, CCXL, 108-111.

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