Fire organizations from California to Bermuda are taking part in online education to help their employees climb the ladder in their careers. Columbia Southern University (CSU), one of nation's first completely online universities has established partnerships with more than 60 fire and rescue organizations. Recently added to the growing list of partnerships is the National Volunteer Fire Council, Tulsa Fire Department, Southwest Division International Fire Chiefs Association, Anniston Fire Department, and Loudoun County IAFF Local 3756 Division.
"We are very excited to be involved in helping career firefighters in their quest for higher education," Nicole Hankin, union secretary for Loudoun County IAFF 3756 said. "This partnership makes it possible for our firefighters to earn their degree and stay committed to their demanding job."
Through the partnership, fire organization members, their spouses and children are offered educational benefits including a tuition discount, application fee waiver, and textbooks at no cost. As a partner, fire organizations will also be featured on the CSU website, marketing materials, and at conferences and speaking engagements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firefighters can endure low pay and poor working conditions. However, with a fire science degree firefighters qualify for specialized jobs in local public safety agencies or in government administration which increase salary and benefits. Fire science degrees at CSU are offered on the associate and bachelor levels.
"Programs at CSU are designed to fit around the work schedules of firefighters, police, and others with demanding and unpredictable occupations," said Chantell Cooley, CSU VP of Partnership Development. "Offering self-paced programs, flexible course formats and open enrollment allows firefighters to earn a quality education while staying committed to their personal and career responsibilities."
Loudoun County IAFF Local 3756 Division was established in northern Virginia in 1997 with 12 members and has grown into a dedicated fire and rescue team of 300. These career firefighters provide fire and rescue services for 17 stations in Loudoun County.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the only national association focused on representing volunteer fire and emergency services (EMS) personnel. Established in 1976, the council supports volunteer fire and EMS departments nationwide through advocacy, education, training, fundraising support, and public awareness.
Tulsa Fire Department in Tulsa, Oklahoma was founded in 1900. It currently serves the citizens of Tulsa with 724 employees in 30 stations. The mission of the department is to protect the community and environment by delivering quality fire safety services.
The Southwest Fire Chiefs Association is a nonprofit division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs serving firefighters in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The goal of the association is to provide education, leadership, information, service, and representation to career and volunteer fire chiefs and managers of emergency service organizations.
Anniston Fire Department in Anniston, Alabama protects approximately 47,300 people. The department currently employees 91 career firefighters and strive to guard the community.
Fire organizations around the world that are also partnered with CSU include the New York Fire Department, Bermuda Fire Service, Orange Beach Fire and Rescue, and Sierra Fire Protection District.