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The Need for Math in Firefighting

3 Min Read

Math might not be the first thing you consider when weighing the pros and cons of pursuing a career in firefighting, but it’s a crucial component in fighting fires and in fighting for a stronger fire department.

With an online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science degree from Anna Maria College, aspiring and seasoned firefighters learn about fire dynamics, data collection, statistical analysis, British Thermal Units, and budgeting.

Saving Lives with Math and Water

An online fire science degree can do more than give a firefighter greater credibility and earnings potential – it can save lives. For example, firefighters use simple algebraic expressions (fire dynamics) to help determine the stability of buildings after they have been weighed down with water. Also, being able to estimate a British Thermal Unit (BTU), which is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of liquid water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, can help you plan how to deploy fire personnel in a dangerous scene.1

Other important tactical decisions must be made based on the calculations of the fire scene. For example, a hydrant has a certain diameter, which means it can dispense a certain number of gallons of water in a minute. Meanwhile, hydrants supply attack lines (the water hoses firefighters use), which shoot up to 300 gallons of water in a minute. Firefighters need to use mental math when choosing how to attack a fire safely and avoid damaging the integrity of a building. Our fire science curriculum also trains firefighters to use a method called the Fire Flow Formula to determine how much water they will require to suppress a fire.

The study of fires is also an important part of improving the safety of the profession, and the safety of the general public. An online fire science degree helps teach the nuances of data collection and statistical analysis. For example, the U.S. Fire Administration tracks the number of structure fires and the estimated dollar loss.2 Fire deaths are also monitored to identify trends and reduce the fire death rate. Math is a central component to ensure accurate calculations and help officials advocate for resources based on trends.

Math and Promotions

Becoming an effective fire service leader means understanding fiscal policies, economic indicators, and budgeting best practices. An online degree from Anna Maria College helps prepare you to see a holistic picture of the profession so that you can not only run a fire department tactically, but keep it operating in a fiscally sound manner.

Understanding taxes, expense justification, local economic conditions, and capital expenses – and having a vision for the future – are some of the core competencies of this program. Fire leadership comprises many jobs, and budgeting is one of the most crucial.3 From a basic budget, to an expense budget, to a capital budget, line item budget, program budget and on, creating these documents that accurately reflect a department’s needs is just as critical as making the right tactical decisions in the field.4

Understanding the budget transmittal process, as well as the concept of elasticity, whereby funding levels grow relative to the growth of income, inflation, and need, is another core competency that will set you apart in the firehouse.

Anna Maria College’s online Bachelor of Science in Fire Science has a long and distinguished history of helping seasoned and aspiring firefighters learn the skills that can further their careers. Call us at 877-265-3201 to speak to a Program Manager or request more information online.



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