Central Ohio Technical College is now offering the only fire science technology program accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) in central Ohio. The program was approved for accreditation in early April. The first two students will graduate from the program with this accreditation at the end of spring semester.

"This is a wonderful acknowledgment for the quality of our fire science technology program at COTC," said Fire Science Technology Instructor Gary Johnson. "This is great for our students, as they are now graduating from an IFSAC accredited program. It's an amazing addition to their resume."

IFSAC is a not-for-profit, peer-driven, self-governing system of both fire service certifying entities and higher education, fire-related degree programs. IFSAC's mission is to plan and administer a high-quality, uniformly delivered accreditation system with an international scope. IFSAC accredits fire science or related academic programs at colleges and universities. Accreditation includes both two-year associate degrees and four-year bachelor's degrees. An IFSAC accredited program indicates that course offerings, institutional support, and qualified faculty are working together in completing their educational mission.

"The IFSAC accreditation is fantastic for fire science technology students at COTC," said COTC Vice President of Academic Affairs Lauri White, Ed.D. "Our faculty and leadership worked very hard to get this accreditation. It's a fantastic accomplishment."

"There are only three other IFSAC accredited fire science programs in the state of Ohio, and they are located in northeastern Ohio and southwestern Ohio," said COTC Institute for Public Services and Safety Director Kevin Reardon. "We are proud to be able to offer an IFSAC accredited program to fire science students in central Ohio."

COTC's fire science technology program prepares students new to the fire service while also educating fire service veterans who are looking to get an associate degree to advance their career. COTC's partnerships with the Ohio Fire Academy and Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County (C-TEC) bring hands-on training to the program. Students have the ability to attend day or evening classes on a full- or part-time basis with the flexibility to adapt to the working firefighter's schedule. In addition, college credit may be given for previous education, training and life experiences.

"Each day before we start class we review a current event, a current issue. We do case studies on fallen firefighters, historical fires where firefighters and people have passed away. It's about learning from history so we don't make the same mistakes again," said Austin Yeater, 19, of Mansfield. "We can learn in the classroom, and we can also learn from the experience of our classmates who have been around the fire service 30 years."

"I'm in a class with kids that are young enough to be my own, and I am the dinosaur of the group," said Robert Albright, 47, of Newark. "It's interesting that I'm able to take some of my knowledge and pass it to them, and they're able to teach me some of the new things that are coming out."

"When you take training and you take education and you combine that with experience, it's a powerful combination that facilitates efficiency and effectiveness in doing your job. It promotes safety, and it also makes a better product for our end customer," said Johnson.

COTC's fire science technology program also features the U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Academy: Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) curriculum model, which allows graduates to transfer credit hours into any FESHE-adopted bachelor's program in the country.

The IFSAC accreditation is for a period of five years. To learn more about the program, visit cotc.edu/firescience.

COTC was ranked number one in Ohio and number 19 in the nation by PayScale in its 2016-17 College Salary Report ranking the best community and career colleges by salary potential. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox, and Pataskala.