August 01, 2007

Fire Service Management program expanding

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale is expanding its off-campus Fire Service Management program to make it available in the Metro East area. With sufficient enrollment, the class is set to begin this fall at the East St. Louis Education Center.

Offering the rare combination of classroom instruction and online curriculum, the College of Applied Arts and Science's program allows students to obtain a bachelor's degree via their computers and weekend classes scheduled to mesh with other employment. Students can complete their general classes at SIUC or elsewhere before earning their bachelor's degree in 16 months via the off-campus academic program.

"It's really a great program for these fellows to be able to finish their degrees around their work schedule in a minimal amount of time," said Judy Rawls, director of off-campus academic programs.

The Fire Service Management program began in the fall of 1976 and in the last decade alone, nearly 1,900 students have participated. Moreover, interest is climbing as more and more fire departments utilize a university degree as a factor in determining promotions and even new hires, Rawls said. She said that while traditionally many fire departments in Southern Illinois, especially the smaller communities, are primarily comprised of volunteer firefighters, the bachelor's degree is quite beneficial in obtaining employment in larger fire departments. For instance, Rawls notes that former Makanda fire chief Al Yancey, a spring 2005 program graduate, is now the fire chief at Minooka, Ill.

Students in the Fire Service Management degree program learn upper management skills, the fiscal and legal aspects of operating a fire department, data processing and much more, Rawls said.

"It gives them the knowledge of the managerial things they would do," Rawls said. "Many cities now require a bachelor's degree to advance in the ranks to the management levels, like captain or chief, in the fire department."

The off-campus program sites have traditionally been in upstate Illinois locations, such as the Champaign and Chicago areas, as well as in larger cities around the country. For more information, contact program coordinator Gary Kistner at 618/453-7277 or by e-mail at