Fire Science Program
The mission of the SMCC’s Fire Science (FS) program is to help students develop the state of the art skills and knowledge for professional fire protection and become career-ready. Success requires a team effort. Fire Science faculty and staff strive to meet the needs of all students, and students are expected to meet their academic and citizenship obligations.
The Fire Science program is designed to provide both in-service and early-service students with sound technical and academic experiences, enabling them to assume positions of responsibility as members of fire and EMS departments or as technical employees of industrial firms and insurance companies. The program provides training in detecting and eliminating fire hazards and causes through periodic inspections, remedial recommendations, and systematic follow ups.
Practical technical instruction is designed to meet fire and life safety needs; responsibilities and obligation of fire protection in engineering, building design, plant protection; fire investigation; and all other fields where a hazard may be involved. 

The ultimate goal is to assist the student to develop the appropriate skills and knowledge for professional fire protection. Fire Science courses are available at off campus locations around the region. In addition to the associate in applied science degree, a one-year certificate option is available.

Graduates of the program have been employed as suppression firefighters, industrial fire protection specialists, safety technicians, fire insurance inspectors, forest fire fighters,  inspection bureau representatives, state fire inspectors and municipal fire department employees, many of whom have earned their degree while employed in their area of specialty.

Associate degree graduates can transfer a full two years of credits toward a baccalaureate degree in Applied Technical Education or Applied Technical Leadership at the University of Southern Maine. They may also transfer two years of credits toward a baccalaureate degree in Business Administration at Husson College or two years of credits toward a baccalaureate degree in Public Administration at University of Maine at Augusta.

Fire Science associate degree graduates have also had success in transferring most credits toward baccalaureate degree programs in the Fire Science field.

Public Safety Student Live-in Program
16 area fire departments, in cooperation with the SMCC Fire Science Program, are pleased to offer this exciting option to all SMCC full time college students. Students accepted into the “live in” program live in area fire-EMS stations (rent free) in exchange for being “on call” during specific hours. They have additional responsibilities and must provide their own meals. Live-in students are complete fire+ EMS basic training and are paid for their emergency responses. The Live-In Program requires a high level of motivation and responsibility. See "Public Safety Student Live-in Program" for additional info and application materials or contact Steve Willis, Student Live-in Coordinator: .


Fire Science Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Fire Science from Southern Maine Community College will prepare students to:

1)    Analyze and apply proactive fire prevention and control methods for safe and cost effective fire protection.

2)    Analyze and apply reactive fire and emergency scene operations for safe and cost effective fire protection. 

3)    Examine and appraise principles of supervision and management necessary for effective leadership and administration in the fire/rescue service.

"We believe that every person is a “work in progress”. Clear expectations, hard work and caring support will help ensure success.  Fire Science personnel take human rights, accountability and high expectations very seriously. We will ensure an environment that values dignity, diversity, leadership and excellence in every aspect. We work closely with area fire and EMS departments and fire protection agencies to ensure that our faculty and curriculum is current, that opportunities for occupational training, experience and growth are integrated with academics, and that we are preparing our students for employment and fire protection leadership success, ever mindful of the trust that the public invests in us.  We invite you to join us in this quest!" 
Steve Willis, Fire Science Department Chair.

This model represents the mission of local fire departments and other fire protection agencies – to protect people property and the environment from a wide range of threats. Those threats include unfriendly fire, auto crashes, natural disasters, terrorism and other community risks.


The way we protect what we hold dear from these threats is to erect shields between the threats and what we seek to protect.  These shields are organized in 3 categories – proactive methods, reactive methods and leadership and management methods.


Proactive methods are those actions we can take before an incident or accident happens to prevent the incident, soften (or mitigate) the impact or better prepare people to manage and survive the incident.


Reactive methods are those actions we take after an incident has happened and include responding, rescuing, suppressing and otherwise rendering aid to the people and protecting the property and environment affected by the threats.


Leadership and management methods are those actions we take to inform and inspire people as well as attract and organize resources to effectively apply proactive and reactive methods.


Each of our shields has capabilities (things it can do well) and limitations (things it can’t do well). The proactive methods shield can prevent and soften incident and help people develop the skills to avoid and survive. Activities such as fire prevention, code enforcement, public fire education and incident pre-planning all fall in to the proactive methods shield. But, despite the best proactive methods and activities, we cannot prevent all harmful incidents.


Reactive methods also have inherent capabilities and limitations. While we have to be ready to effectively respond to threats that have not been prevented, to rescue, protect and treat those affected, suppress the threat and restore a safe and healthy environment, sometimes we are too late (after people have been seriously injured or perished) or lack the resources to effectively handle incidents beyond our resources capability (such as conflagrations and severe large-scale disasters). The better we have prepared (proactively), the more effectively we’ll be able to react.


Effective leadership and management can contribute to our success by recruiting, developing, inspiring and organizing people who are critical to our mission, as well as obtaining the resources (money, apparatus, equipment, training & educational materials) and managing them effectively. But sometimes we don’t have enough people, enough time or enough resources to be successful in our mission.


To accomplish our fire protection mission, we need to employ all 3 shields effectively so they can balance and support each other. No amount of reactive capability will save lives if the fire department is notified after people are already dead. No amount of fire prevention education will stop a tornado. A dozen well trained and well-led firefighters will not be able to stop a city-wide conflagration.   


Historically, the fire service was singularly focused on reacting to threats rather than proactively preventing and mitigating them, and relied solely on experience to develop leadership and management skills in their leaders. The fire service of today recognizes the need for all three shields to work together if we are to protect people, property and the environment from the various threats, and accomplish our mission. 


Just as the Fire Service Mission Model tepresents local fire protection efforts, it also represents the SMCC Fire Science curriculum and course of study. The fire science department is committed to graduating students who are "occupation-ready" - with strong skills in all three areas of the model. Required and elective courses will help students learn the science of fire protection and risk management and develop state-of-the-art skills in proactive, reactive and leadership & management methods.


Our students also use the model to guide their development of skills. Our most successful graduates are those who have developed and applied knowledge, skills and attitudes in all 3 program areas, and have earned course credit, certifications and licenses to document their diverse skill-sets.


So the model really represents 3 missions: The local community/agency mission, the Fire Science mission, and our students’ mission – all with one central goal – to effectively and safely protect people, property and the environment from harm!


General information you should know about the Fire Science and Student Live-In programs.
(.pdf, 188K)
This brochure will give you a broad overview of the Fire Science program.
(.pdf, 1841K)

This might be an excellent option for military veterans and more experienced fire-EMS members competing for career positions.

(.pdf, 474K)
These are the courses you'll need to complete to earn your AAS degree.
Page 2 provides a suggested schedule.  The "either or" on Page 2 only refers to when you take the course, not course substitutions.  All available course substitutions are listed on Page 1.
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Our goal is to help you become "career-ready".  See what that means.
(.pdf, 75K)

Many Fire Science students continue their studies in the Paramedicine program.  Those graduates with dual Fire Science/Paramedicine degrees, as well as basic fire training and EMS certifications and licenses, are highly employable across the U.S.A.

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The author discusses the importance of "learning how to learn".
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