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Pierce College’s fire service program sparks interest of firefighters across the nation

For the first time in Pierce College’s history, the Fire Services Leadership and Management program was recognized as the sixth “Best Online Bachelors in Fire Science” for its outstanding leadership development, flexible coursework, and real-world application skill training.

The program requires students to complete 120 credits in a variety of courses, including ethics, chemistry and fire service leadership. The goal of the program is to equip entry-level firefighters, known as probationary firefighters, with the necessary critical thinking skills to transition into leadership roles. 

“Our bachelor’s degree is geared towards people who want to become chief level officers,” said Joseph Dilley, program coordinator and assistant chief at McNeil Island Fire Department.

In January 2020, Bates Technical College and Pierce College collaborated to launch the fire service program and had students take courses between both colleges. Due to recent changes at Bates, students now attend their respective college’s fire program to earn their certifications.

“There’s been changes at Bates and the leadership of their fire program so we don’t really have a relationship right now,” said Dilley.

Since many students in the program are employed firefighters with varying schedules, Pierce officials opted for an online curriculum to provide the most flexibility to students. This has also made the courses accessible throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. 

According to Dilley, students from Oregon, Tennessee and North Carolina have been interested in more information about the fire service degrees that Pierce offers.

Pierce College also offers an associate degree in Fire Service Leadership and Management. This program has about 45 part-time and full-time students while the B.A.program has 12 students. According to Dilley, the difference between the programs is the level of critical thinking taught between lower ranks and executive-level ranks.

“Our associate program is geared towards what we call company-level officers, like the rank of lieutenant [or] captain,” said Dilley.

In both programs, students can count previous experience as credit, shown through certificates, licenses or training records. Pierce College encourages individuals with fire service experience to apply, especially local fire station firefighters, military firefighters, and those with previous fire service education.

The high demand for professional development and leadership training for firefighters was one of the reasons why the fire service program was founded. According to Dilley, another reason was the movement towards higher education in firefighting. 

Although the program is only two years old, Dilley is hopeful that Pierce is providing the education needed for firefighters to achieve higher ranks. More importantly, he’s hopeful that Pierce is equipping firefighters with the skills to save the lives of people in dire need of help.

Interviews and article by @FenskeJayden on Twitter.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Jayden Fenske

Pierce College’s fire service program sparks interest of firefighters across the nation

by Jayden Fenske time to read: 2 min