Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program

Education and Training

Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program

What is Ontario’s Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program?

The Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program was launched in 2001 and is designed to effectively prepare potential firefighters for entry into Ontario’s Fire Service. This three-semester community college certificate program is the result of a partnership between the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC), the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM), Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (community colleges) and partnering fire departments. A key thrust of this program is its flexible delivery methodology that seeks to accommodate the diverse needs of the student population. It is available on both a full- time and a part-time basis, and some courses are offered through distance learning at several colleges.

What is in the curriculum of the Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program?

The program’s curriculum incorporates a strong theoretical base with an applied skills focus. It is, therefore, both a competency and an occupationally based curriculum, and is designed to further the Ontario Fire Service’s professionalization process. Specifically, the curriculum builds the student’s knowledge and skills in the following core areas: basic fire science; fire suppression; firefighter emergency patient care; fire prevention and public education. There are special modules in the program, such as confined space and environmental hazards. Students are provided the opportunity to practise and test their skills in both simulated and controlled live fire training scenarios.

What is the need for the Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program?

There are many candidates applying for firefighter positions with full-time departments in Ontario. The increasingly sophisticated and time-intensive selection/hiring process is very competitive and stressful for many applicants. It is also quite costly for fire departments. Once hired, new recruits historically undergo a comprehensive and often lengthy orientation and training process that is administered by the fire department. The Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program provides a very credible screening vehicle for municipalities and fire departments in their selection and hiring processes. The program also graduates potential firefighters who will only require a streamlined orientation to department specific equipment and procedures after hiring, resulting in substantial fire department savings of both fiscal and human resources.

What are the benefits of the Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program?

The program meets the needs of the fire service by providing firefighter candidates who have:

  • Acquired theoretical knowledge to support the initial recruit role and subsequent advancement to first class firefighter
  • Honed fire-specific entry-level skills to allow for orientation to the fire department before assuming the full recruit role
  • Graduated from a program that has a system of checks and balances, which provides quality assurance for the course’s content, teachers, resources, tests and currency

The program meets the needs of prospective firefighters by providing learners with:

  • A program that is accepted within the Ontario provincial education system and is accessible throughout Ontario
  • A community college certificate that includes general education credits that are transferable to other programs
  • An opportunity to write the OFM provincial firefighter curriculum tests so that, upon passing the tests and being hired into a fire department, the new hire can apply for and potentially receive the OFC Certificate of Achievement
  • An awareness of firefighter job requirements, including physical fitness
  • A program that fits with the career path of the Ontario Fire Service

What is the program’s link to Firefighter Certification in Ontario?

To achieve certification as a firefighter in Ontario, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Attainment of the OFC Firefighter Certificate of Achievement
  • Employment in a municipal fire department in Ontario for a minimum of three years before applying for certification
  • Completion of the job performance requirements, which include the required endorsed specialty modules for certification and completion of the Job Experience Requirement Performance Checklist

What is the current and future status of the OFM Firefighter Curriculum in fire departments?

It is important to note that the use of the OFM Firefighter Curriculum by fire departments will continue for the foreseeable future. Firefighters who satisfactorily pass all the practical skills tests and the three provincial written tests will continue to receive an Ontario Fire College Certificate of Achievement.

Firefighters who meet general education requirements as specified by the academic policies of each endorsed community college will be eligible to receive that college’s Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training Program certificate.