Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

ASU fire safety program worth saving

Guest Writer
Guest Opinion

In response to millions of dollars in state budget cuts, Arizona State University is limiting freshman admissions, furloughing workers, and identifying programs to cut.

Among those targeted for elimination is the Fire Service Program, including the bachelor’s degree of applied science in fire service management, the master’s in fire service administration and the online fire service management certificate.

For at least 40 years, the Arizona fire service has been trying to get the Fire Service Program in place in a Level 1 research institution in Arizona.

Until now, only community colleges and some smaller state and private colleges have tried to take on this objective.

While ASU’s program is fairly new, its rich educational opportunities are really important to the Arizona fire service as a whole and the Arizona Fire Service Institute in particular.

The institute consists of five professional organizations, all of which endorse keeping the Fire Service Program with ASU:

• Professional Firefighters of Arizona

• Arizona Fire Chiefs Association

• Arizona Fire Districts Association

• Volunteer Firefighters of Arizona

• The Metro Section of the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association

The loss of ASU’s program would deal a significant blow to their efforts to professionalize fire service management and administration in Arizona.

Fire departments across the state are requiring their firefighters to have bachelor’s or master’s degrees for promotional opportunities.

ASU has the only Fire Service Program within the Arizona public university system. If ASU cuts it, where will these firefighters turn?

These fire departments will either have to lower their promotional standards, or their firefighters will have to turn to colleges or universities outside of Arizona to get the formal education required in today’s dynamic environment.

The fire service has struggled for 40 years to get these types of programs to be made available.

And while they clearly support the needs of the fire service, more important is that they support the needs of the communities we are sworn to protect.

Continuing education helps us all to provide excellence in our profession and in our service delivery.

The classes teach our firefighters how to be effective administrators, how to manage budgets, the latest firefighting tactics and strategies, and the most effective ways to protect citizens from terrorist or hazardous materials incidents that threaten our communities.

This program is critical in maintaining the highest level of public safety throughout Arizona.

S. Jeff Piechura is chairman of the Arizona Fire Services Institute and chief of Tucson’s Northwest Fire District. He is a graduate of the Arizona State University Fire Management Degree Program and is completing his studies for a master’s in fire administration at ASU.

E-mail: jpiechura@northwestfire.org

Let’s save ASU’s fire service programs

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