Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology's 40-week Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training certificate is designed to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and training to pursue a career or career advancement in Firefighting. The Program, though not necessarily its delivery method, is endorsed by the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) Endorsement Review Board. Through theoretical, laboratory, and practical based training 'students will develop a sound understanding of fire science principles and practices of fire prevention, fire suppression, rescue, emergency care as well as community service,' including ' various exercises in the field using tools, personal protective equipment and systems under controlled situations: examples include confined space rescue; salvage; auto extrication; fire stream; nozzles and hoses; water rescue; as well as, emergency response.'
Qualifying students will have the opportunity to apply, practice, and enhance what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations via a work experience placement in a relevant settings, usually local fire departments. During the Placement, 'team work and professionalism will be emphasized' as students 'participate and observe the various job related activities of firefighters in the region.' Throughout the Placement 'observation or participation by the student will be conducted under the direct supervision of fire department or other appropriate personnel following approved fire department policies and directives.' Upon graduation, graduates will be 'eligible to write the OFM Provincial Test. Passing this test meets the academic requirement for Ontario Firefighter Certification.' The Program is available to be taken on a part-time schedule during 'the evenings through the School of Part-time Studies.'
Students should be aware that the Program will provide students with the competencies required to pursue a career in Firefighting. Most positions in this profession, however, will require graduates to possess criteria beyond that provided by the Program as determined by the employer. In most cases, graduates will have to meet the physical fitness and psychological (such as having no fear of heights or confined spaces) requirements to meet the physical and mental demands of Firefighting and related tasks, have 'normal unaided hearing at frequencies of 500 to 400 Hz measured by audiometer,' and have uncorrected vision acuity of at least 'at least 6/12 (20/40) binocularly (both eyes),' corrected vision acuity of 'at least 6/6 (20/20) binocularly,' and 'no marked degree of colour blindness.'
Regarding eyevision, many employers may have 'additional minimum requirements regarding refractive surgery farsightedness, colour vision, depth perception and peripheral vision.' Most employers will also require employees to have current, valid certification in CPR and First Aid, and perhaps a driver's license, particularly a DZ class license. Furthermore, because of the nature of the work, an individual with a criminal record may find it difficult to obtain employment in the industry as many employers are reluctant to hiring those who possess a criminal history. Prospective students who do have criminal history should consult with a College or Program advisor before applying.
Career-wise, graduates will have acquired the qualifications that will allow them to be candidates for various professional, full time or part-time employment or volunteer positions in Firefighting, and related areas like fire prevention and education and fire inspection, in Ontario and throughout Canada. Firefighters may work in a wide range of environments like airports, forests and parks, hazardous materials units, fire departments, hospitals, nuclear plants, and other industrial, rural, urban, and suburban areas. The environment in which firefighters work will often determine the exact duties they will perform, and some firefighters may develop specialization in an area of Firefighting. For example, those working in forest land tend to focus on fire prevention by, among other ways, surveying the land for fire hazards and fires and quickly organizing responses to the latter when they do occur to limit their spread and damage. Through further training, firefighters may become fire investigators who attempt to reconstruct the origin and cause(s) of a fire. Investigators will usually collect evidence and witness accounts which they then use to produce reports about said fire; in cases where the law may become involved, investigators may be called to testify in court.
Firefighting can be a strenuous and physically and mentally demanding career. Firefighters tend to work long and varied hours, and may be called upon to respond to emergencies at anytime during a 24-hour period, including on holidays. Moreover, Firefighting is a dangerous profession with risks for death and/or injuries and/or health problems from things like flames, falling objects, hazardous materials, and imploding structures. When firefighters are not combating fires or attending to other emergency situations directly, they are often at fire stations waiting to be called to duty or performing drills, among other things, or they may be actively engaged in promoting fire prevention.
To be eligible for admission to the Program, applicants must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), or equivalent. Prospective students who earned an OSSD with 'senior English and/or mathematics courses at the Basic Level, or with Workplace or Open courses, will be tested to determine their eligibility for admission.' Individuals who lack the aforementioned credentials but who are 19 years or over by the start of the Program may apply via "mature student status;' the eligibility of mature applicants will be 'determined by academic achievement testing '
All applicants must have successfully completed 'English, Grade 12 (ENG4C or equivalent), Mathematics, Grade 12 (MAP4C or a mathematics with a similar content), Biology, Grade 11 (SBI3C or equivalent), and Chemistry, Grade 12 (SCH4C or equivalent), and possess current, valid certification in Level "C" CPR, Basic Rescuer and Standard First Aid. Applicants may need to obtain a Police Record Check, particularly for the Program's work experience placement. Students who 'have been convicted of an offence under the criminal code for which' they 'have not been pardoned' might 'be unable to participate in clinical/field placements,' and 'successful completion of a clinical/field placement is a requirement for graduation.' Students with an unpardoned criminal record 'must meet with the Departmental Chair prior to the first day of classes.'
Furthermore, although not required for admission, 'candidates who are accepted into the program will be given the Firefighter Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) during their second semester.' Students who fail the CPAT will have their respective files 'reviewed to determine if they will be allowed to go into the practicum component at Ottawa Fire Services.'