The job of firefighter is complex. It involves not only extinguishing hazardous fires that threaten property and civilian or natural populations but also rescuing people from dangerous situations, like collapsed or burning buildings.

Today, many fire departments require or prefer applicants who have completed a firefighter program prior to applying. Centennial College's Pre-service Firefighter Education and Training program is one such undertaking. It focuses on offering students theory and practical training that is in accordance with the approved curriculum developed by the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM). This is achieved through lectures and practical courses that include simulation training under the guidance of qualified instructors and practical experience in various activities such as “live fire burns” at the City of Toronto's Fire Training Academy and the Emergency Patient Care at Centennial's Healthcare Simulation Centre.

Here is a closer look at some of the courses in this program.

Fire Ground Operations: The Incident Management Systems is introduced through content that address the observational, assessment, problem solving and decision making skills required by firefighters. Students are also familiarized with the role of the firefighter en route to the fire scene and at the fire scene, fire cause determination, fire scene security and post-incident analysis and review.

Emergency Patient Care: Students get an overview of the Ontario emergency medical care system with emphasis on the specific role and responsibilities of the firefighter emergency patient care responders and the teamwork essential to the effectiveness of the EMS response. Included are legislation, regulations, standards, and established policies, procedures and protocols as well the role of members of the emergency response team and the specific role of the firefighter emergency care responder.

Fire Equipment: Firefighters must be fully versed in the equipment they use to fight fires, not only for their safety but the safety of those on the scene. As such, this course first examines the anatomy of a fire and then the purpose, types, uses and limitations of protective clothing. For this aspect, students get to try out personal protective clothing and equipment including maintaining, storing, cleaning and inspecting. They also look at the breathing apparatus and its component parts; common ropes and knots used to raise and lower firefighter equipment in emergency and non-emergency situations; types and sizes of ladders used in the fire service and different methods used in carrying, raising, climbing and working on ground ladders; lighting equipment and its operation in order to provide illumination of the scene; and more.

Fire Suppression: Split into two parts, the first course focuses on the design and components of municipal water supply systems and rural water supplies, as well as the types and operation of hydrants and methods of determining flow. It also specifies considerations, procedures and precautions necessary to successfully extinguish the four classes of fire and compressed gas cylinder fires. The second, meanwhile, defines ventilation as it applies to the fire service and describes the concepts, types, procedures, precautions, and equipment associated with ventilation operations.

After completing each firefighter course, students are eligible to write the Ontario Fire Marshal Provincial testing.