Far to often we hear the debate of which is better Education or Experience. The sad thing is people tend to discount younger firefighters with degrees (especially the older ones).
What a lot of people fail to realize is that there are a lot of degree programs that can provide both! The video below details what kind of education you get at one of the most prestigious Fire Science Universities in the country Eastern Kentucky University. I know first hand the experience you get from there as I attended the University for 2 years, and had I not run into money issues an EKU diploma would be hanging on my wall instead of a Columbia Southern University one. While I was at Eastern I got not only a ton of knowledge but a ton of experience! We did burns, arson investigations, explosion investigations, sprinkler design, strategy and tactics, ARFF training etc. There was not a weekend were some type of hands on training was being offered. The school even had its own engine!
Additionally one of the classes you could take was an internship and students were allowed to internship with the Madison County Fire Dept. and the City of Richmond (Ky) Fire Dept. This internship was not a normal one, though. The students that were assigned the internship were placed on an actual fire department shift, with a station and a crew. When they were on shift they were only allowed to leave for class, then straight back to duty. So while these students were earning a 5 star education they were also gaining experience in the fire service.
Other programs offer similar opportunities im sure, but another big point is that a lot of students who attend the University of Maryland for their degree also participate in live in programs with local volunteer fire houses. These individuals are also getting a 5 star education and gaining experience at the same time.
Lastly the on-line degree program has really taken off, that’s how I finished my degree and how a lot of other people I know are getting theres. A lot of people are holding down full-time jobs in the fire department while getting these online degrees, again getting education, and experience together.
The point I am trying to make is that just because someone has a degree, do not discount the experience level they may bring to the table either, it may just surprise you.
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As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!