BGSU fills need with Fire Administration degree

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The first class of the new Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration (FIAD) degree at Bowling Green State University is full, the University has announced. Eighteen fire officers are enrolled in the program, which was created in response to the increasingly complex role fire chiefs today must fulfill.

“Our first cohort is a group of dedicated fire professionals who are committed to earning their bachelor’s degree to advance their careers and contribute to their departments in meaningful and tangible ways,” said program adviser Dr. Melissa Miller, an associate professor of political science.

The online degree program, one of only a few in the country with an administrative focus, emphasizes communication skills, legal aspects of fire and emergency management, public health, interagency coordination of large-scale events, strategic planning, fiscal responsibility, applied research and analysis.

The program allows fire and emergency professionals who have an associate degree or the equivalent plus work experience to complete a four-year degree. It is jointly administered by the Department of Political Science and Continuing and Extended Education (CEE).

According to former Toledo Fire Chief Michael Wolever, “Today’s chief officers deal with urban planning and development, labor law, contract negotiations and compliance, state and federal grants, the administration of fire departments in a shrinking and changing economy, and many other issues.”

The degree-completion program was a natural extension of BGSU’s longtime efforts to provide advanced training and professional development for Ohio’s firefighters and fire administrators, said Dr. Marcia Salazar-Valentine, executive director for economic development in CEE. “BGSU has hosted State Fire School for over 30 years, which has been attended by thousands of emergency personnel. We’re happy to fill the need for additional support.”

Similarly, the program is a good fit with the political science department, Miller said. “The new Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration dovetails nicely with our department’s Master of Public Administration degree program.”

Assistant Fire Chief Daniel Podlogar of Lawrence Township said, “An online program is about the only way I could finish a degree.” Like most fire and emergency personnel, he works rotating shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, and holds a second job. Podlogar is also the coordinator of emergency services for Massillon. “The fire administrator classes are relevant to both my jobs,” he said.

Especially helpful has been the emphasis on planning, he said. “Fire departments in general are not as well versed in pre-event planning as we should be. In class we’ve worked on developing strategies and tactics before those events occur. I’ve already begun developing a community emergency plan for my district.”

Before enrolling in the Fire Administrator program, Podlogar was familiar with BGSU fire classes, having taken Fire Officer 1, Fire Instructor, and Strategies and Tactics for the Fire Company Officer “hybrid” classes, which begin on campus and are completed online.

Ann Light, associate director of Continuing and Extended Education and recruiting adviser for the FIAD degree, was instrumental in designing the degree program. “The development of this curriculum spans nearly 10 years and would not have been possible without the generous support of the chief officers who gave their input. It is truly a dream come true to see it come to fruition with such an outstanding group of students,” she said.

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(Posted October 21, 2011 )