Choosing the best online firefighter classes is usually a matter of finding programs that are approved in your jurisdiction that contain an even balance of online coursework and field experience. Nearly every fire department requires both new recruits and seasoned employees to undergo training exercises. Some departments will permit online courses in limited instances. There are always more courses available online than have been approved by any one department, however, which makes the choice more about local relevance than general strength of programming. It is usually a good idea to do a bit of research into your jurisdiction’s requirements before paying to enroll in Internet-based firefighter education.
Firefighter training typically includes a combination of bookwork and hands-on field exercises. In the classroom, students must be able to think through complex hypothetical emergencies and articulate appropriate response strategies. Sometimes, firefighters are able to complete these written requirements online. The hardest part about choosing online firefighter classes is making sure that the online learning you undertake will be accepted in the department where you work or hope to work.
The easiest way to learn if your local fire brigade permits online education is to ask. Any fire department’s recruitment manager or education officer should be able to outline all training requirements, including any restrictions on earning online credits. Rules vary from place to place, but most of the time online firefighter classes must be accredited either locally or nationally in order to be acceptable. Accredited online courses are usually vetted by professional standards-setting organizations, and require such things as verification of instructor credentials, minimum numbers of written assignments, and anti-cheating measures.
It is important to keep in mind that online firefighter classes are never the only requirement needed to become a firefighter. Any program that promises graduates job prospects after the completion of online classes or an online degree should be viewed with some skepticism. Fire training requires a great deal of hands-on practice, and field experience is always essential.
Many online firefighter academies provide the opportunity for Internet-based students to receive field training at a centralized location. This in-person training is usually offered over a compressed weekend or series of weekends, so as to fit into students’ schedules more easily than would a more regularly scheduled course. If timing and convenience are concerns for you, look for online programs paired with field training centers.
Again, however, it is essential that you consider your jurisdiction’s requirements before committing the time to earn field experience from a third-party provider of online firefighter classes. Even departments that accept online credits may not accept outsourced training exercises. Policies on this point often vary from fire chief to fire chief. Exceptions to the rule are sometimes possible, but it is almost always better to ask before acting.