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Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training - Sir Sandford Fleming College

Firefighter and Fire Science Education in Canada

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Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training - Sir Sandford Fleming College

Sir Sandford Fleming College's 1-year, 3-semester 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 is 'created and taught in partnership with the Peterborough Fire Department,' and 'combines practical training integrated with theory at the Eastern Ontario Fire Academy (EOFA), a fully equipped training centre located in Norwood.' The Program's 'curriculum is based on the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and Ontario Fire Marshal pre-service firefighter curriculum,' which is expected to become 'mandatory for preferred candidates seeking a career in Firefighting.' Among the major areas of study to be covered are communications, emergency medical skills, extrication, fire behaviour and extinguishing, hazardous materials, physical fitness, public education, rescue techniques, and risk assessment. Qualifying students will have the opportunity to apply, practice, and enhance what they learn in the classroom to real-world situations via a 154-hour of work experience placement in a relevant settings, usually local fire departments. During the Placement, most of which will occur in a fire department, the student will 'perform appropriate firefighter tasks/ duties, which contribute to' his/her 'educational program outcomes in the areas of fire suppression and rescue, emergency patient care, fire prevention, public education and training.' Throughout the Placement, the student 'will work under the direction of a "preceptor."' Graduates of the Program will qualify 'to write the OFM Provincial Test leading to' the 'Ontario Fire College (OFC) Certificate of Achievement.'

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 (hyperopia), 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. 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 possess an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) 'with the majority of credits at the College (C) and Open (O) level, including two English credits in the College (C) stream; Grade 11 College (C) Biology; and Grade 12 College (C) Chemistry or Physics; two Math credits in the College (C) or University/College (UC) stream.' Prospective students that 'do not possess an OSSD, but who will be 19 years of age before the commencement of classes,' and 'who can demonstrate potential for success in college studies, will be considered on an individual basis.' Mature applicants must, however, 'write the Canadian Adult Achievement Test.' Furthermore, 'all applicants will be required to achieve credit in all mandatory sciences through Secondary School or through Academic Upgrading programs.'

Students should not that before the beginning the Program, they will be required to submit 'a complete immunization record and, valid first aid and CPR certificates (Level C),' and 'prior to entry to the second semester of the program, students are required to successfully complete a physical assessment test including a medical certificate verifying good physical health, the results of an eye examination verifying uncorrected vision of at least 20/30 and a hearing examination verifying a normal unaided hearing level.' A criminal record check will also be required before the start of the second semester.


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