In emergencies such as COVID-19, the need for first responders is at an all-time high.
Lone Star College-Kingwood offers a variety of courses that train students for these career fields. The Fire Science Technology program offers a Level 1 certificate that can be earned in two semesters or an associate of applied science degree in fire science after two years. Both paths can lead to a career as a firefighter.
“Firefighters are in high demand as they are on the front lines of protecting this country from all types of natural and man-made disasters,” said David Teverbaugh, fire science professor at LSC-Kingwood. “Our job is to train students to answer this call.”
Students can earn a basic structural firefighter certificate that will allow them to work as a firefighter in Texas or an associate of science degree in fire science that can transfer to a four-year university such as Texas A&M-San Antonio or West Texas A&M. Program costs include approximately $865 per semester and about $1,000 for uniforms and bunker gear rental. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
“For those who continue their education, other career options include fire investigators, emergency managers, paramedics or safety professionals in various industries,” he said.
According to Teverbaugh, there are more than 40 departments actively recruiting, which has been steady for the last decade. In Texas, entry-level salaries range from the low $40,000s to the mid $60,000s, and firefighters/paramedics can expect pay from the mid $50,000s to the high $70,000s.
Applicants for the Fire Science Technology program must be eligible for college enrollment and able to pass a sports physical and criminal background check. Once in the program, students will be expected to wear heavy protective gear, work in extremely hot environments, and perform physically taxing work. They will learn how to operate fire streams, perform all types of rescues, use the Jaws of Life, power saws, and other firefighting equipment.
“In each lesson, the emphasis is placed on teamwork and mental aspects of winning,” Teverbaugh said.
LSC-Kingwood offers an evening fire academy to accommodate working students. The program can accept 26 participants, and the class meets from 5-10:30 p.m. four nights a week during the fall and three nights a week in the spring semesters.