Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology's Pre-Service Firefighter Education Training program, offered both on-campus at Porcupine Campus and via distance education, is primarily designed for individuals interested in a career in Firefighting. The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs/Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal Endorsement Board has endorsed the content of both versions of the Program. The Program will equip learners 'with the required knowledge and skills through vocational courses in Firefighting, generic skills, general education courses in order to enhance job performance as a firefighter.' Moreover, students will have 'the opportunity to consolidate and apply theoretical knowledge through lab and field placements within regional Fire Services.' The Program employs a dress code, which include 'fire uniforms, crests,' and basic fire boots and other clothing items, 'for all practice sessions and field placement activities;' all costs associated with these items will be responsibility of the student.
The on-campus version of the Program will be delivered in 1 year, via 3 consecutive semesters of study. The distance education version, however, will be 'delivered over two years using' 6 'self-study modules.' Work experience placements for the latter will be 'arranged for students by the program coordinator.' If a local trainer-facilitator is unavailable, participants in the distance education program may need to attend 2 weeks of mandatory testing at Porcupine Campus at the end of the Program's third module and another 2-week testing period at the end of the fifth module. Students may also have to travel to the Campus to receive 'fire prevention and practical training (ie. extinguisher demonstration, stop-drop-roll school program, home and business inspection)' if resources in the learners' respective communities are not available. In addition, students enrolled in the distance education program must spend a 'week at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst for live burn training at the beginning of either the third or sixth semesters,' and 'students may also have to spend an additional two weeks in Terniskaming Shores (Haileybury) for intensive live burn training.'
Students should note that, 'upon successful completion of' the Program they will be required to 'undergo provincial testing and skill-based scenarios to meet the Fire Marshall's requirements.' Furthermore, after receiving 'employment with a fire service, after an appropriate time period and at the discretion of the fire chief, the firefighter may then apply to the Fire College to receive the Certificate of Achievement.' Graduates of the Program 'can bridge into the Paramedic diploma program to obtain an additional Primary Care Paramedic diploma in just three semesters.'
Career-wise, graduates will have acquired the qualifications that will allow them to be candidates for various professional, full time employment in Firefighting 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, either on-campus or distance learning versions, applicants must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), or equivalent, including English (ENG4C or ENG4G, or equivalent), Biology (SBI3, SBI3G, SBI3J, SBI4C, or SBI4G, or equivalent), and Chemistry (SCH3G, SCH3U, SCH4C, SCH4G, or SCH4U, or equivalent), a valid Class "G" Ontario driver's license, and Level "C" CPR and Standard First Aid certification. Applicants must also provide a 'physician's medical report as per guide supplied by the College' and a 'recent (within 3 months)' criminal record check. Individuals interested in the Program are required to 'be free of criminal offences in order to be allowed in the field setting,' and must undergo 'annual criminal record reference checks.' All costs associated with meeting the admission and post-admission requirements are the responsibility of the student.
Students should also be aware that numerous employers in the fire service industry 'are implementing the National Fire Protection AssociationĘs (NFPA) Standard as their applicant medical requirements.' The NFPA Standard involves a 'physical and medical evaluation process' that assists 'in determining if those interested in a career in Firefighting meet the medical criteria for employment.' The College can assist students in preparing for the NFPA Standard examination.