Online Fire Science Certifications Overview

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Online and hybrid certification programs related to fire science are available for various types of fire officers. Classes are offered online, but students may have to take tests in person. Some coursework may require a webcam.

Training and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many states require fire inspectors and fire investigators to obtain certification. This is often achieved by passing an exam based on standards put forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Some states also require certification for fire officers, such as fire chiefs and administrators, and use the NFPA's certifications as standards.

NFPA Certification

The NFPA certifies different levels of fire officers. Some of the preparation for various NFPA certifications can be found online, although tests are usually given in person. A number of different schools and organizations offer online training for some of the levels of certifications. Some of the NFPA's certifications include:

  • Certified Fire Protection Specialist
  • Certified Fire Inspector (Levels 1 and 2)
  • Certified Fire Plan Examiner

Other Professional Certifications

Additionally, there are a number of nationally recognized organizations, such as the National Association of Fire Investigators and the International Association of Arson Investigators, that offer optional certifications for professionals. These organizations don't offer their exams online, but some of them offer preparation materials that can be accessed via the web.

Certification Preparation Courses

NFPA Fire Officer I

This is a partially online course designed to satisfy the requirements of the NFPA. It's also used by several states as qualification for various certifications. The course is designed for working and prospective supervisors, to train them or improve their abilities to supervise a fire company. The online portion is complemented by an in-class practical skills assessment. Topics covered include:

  • The role of the fire officer
  • Fire safety education
  • Building construction
  • Community awareness

NFPA Fire Officer III and IV

This course is designed to meet the needs for certification for command-level officers and administrators of fire departments and fire districts. This is a partially online course, consisting of 12 modules, each with a daylong seminar followed by online work. Students must complete three independent study projects and a research paper. Those who live far away from the site will be able to complete the classroom portion via webcam. The modules cover topics that include:

  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Human resources
  • Emergency management
  • Budget and finance
  • Code enforcement and public education

Continuing Education Information

Finally, continuing education courses are also available via the web. These are designed for various fire service and emergency personnel, and many can be accessed 24/7.


The NFPA also offers a host of continuing education courses through its website. These are online, self-paced webinars that students can take at any time, and they award specific numbers of continuing education units. Some of the courses currently available in fire-related areas include:

  • Fire sprinkler system components
  • Prevention of fire and dust explosions in industrial settings
  • Design approaches for fire sprinkler systems
  • Design and installation of fire pumps


The National Fire Academy, an organization under the FEMA umbrella, also offers online options for fire and emergency services personnel. These are self-paced courses that can be completed at any time. Topics include:

  • Alternative water supply
  • Principles of building construction
  • Testing and evaluation of water supplies

Fire science certification online courses can be found through the National Fire Protection Association, and they teach students about relevant subjects like building structure, leadership and emergency management. Students may have to be present for tests and seminars.

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