Firefighter Scholarships and Grants – Financial Aid and Support

Volunteer and professional firefighters work endless shifts to protect and safeguard people in various communities across the United States. With such great responsibility comes commitment, professionalism, specialized training, and proper education. Certifications and associate degrees from vocational schools and colleges provide excellent opportunities for upcoming firefighters to achieve personal and academic success.

However, the high cost of attending such colleges and getting a degree may seem discouraging at times, and that is where the scholarships and grants offered by various funding sources come into the picture. This article gives a gist about numerous fire science scholarships and grants available in the U.S. for aspiring firefighters.

List of Scholarships from National Organizations

  • The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) formed in the year 1918 offers labor union support to professional firefighters/personnel. Affiliated with AFL-CIO, the organization funds several scholarships for IAFF members and their children. For example, W.H. “Howie” McClennan Scholarship provides financial aid and support for higher learning to the children of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Also, Harvard University Trade Union Program Scholarship is awarded to student members to attend the Harvard University Trade Union Program.
  • The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), since 1992, provides resources and education to the families of firefighters who died in the line of duty. The Foundation offers the program for young adults aged between 18 to 24 years. The sole purpose is to help firefighter’s families achieve their educational goals.
  • The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) offers scholarships for those pursuing fire science or medical emergency services. Starting 1st of June every year, the scholarship committee provides grants and scholarships to new applicants in cooperation with suitable universities, schools or colleges within Maryland. The list of three awards currently offered includes:
  1. The MSFA Dr. John L. Bryan Scholarship Award. The amount varies based on the availability of funds.
  2. The Floyd B. Heimer Memorial Scholarship Award offers the amount worth $2000.00 per academic year.
  3. The Delmarva Power Scholarship Award offers the amount worth $4,500.00 per academic year.
  • The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) grants scholarship and financial aid for firefighters who want to enhance their capabilities and educational understanding of fire services. Every year, the IAFC Foundation provides scholarships to students to learn and access emerging firefighting protocols and best practices to lead the fire services and safeguard the citizens. Fire Rescue Med is another scholarship program offered under IAFC. The registered members attend the industry’s most crucial coveted event. Annually, ten scholarships are awarded to the worthy recipients attending the event.

Firefighter School Scholarships

  • The Ocean City Volunteer Fire Department, Maryland, provides two scholarships, F. Michael Sacca Scholarship, and John Paul Adkins – II Memorial Scholarship. The Scholarship worth $1000 is awarded to the senior OCVFC member who wishes to pursue post-secondary education in any field, or trade or any other program beyond high school.
  • The Illinois Fire Chief’s Association (IFCA), or Illinois, offers scholarship programs under IFCA Foundation Annual Scholarship Program each year to the firefighters to pursue their degree or certification programs. In the first year of the grant, the foundation awarded seven scholarships to 34 applicants worth $4,400.00. These numbers have been growing continuously over the past few Last, in 2017, the foundation awarded 94 scholarships to 208 applicants worth totaling $63,400.
  • The Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy (CPFTA), Chicago provides a two-year scholarship for the students pursuing the four-year program, e., two years in high school and two years during college. Students must meet specific criteria to be eligible for the scholarship program.
  • The South Carolina State Firefighters Association offers various scholarships for firefighters pursuing their certifications and degree to advance the understanding relating to fire safety measures, equipment, and tools.
  • The Margate-Coconut Creek Firefighters Benevolent Scholarship is awarded to the aspiring student twice a year and is directly paid to the firefighting institution, which the student attends. It aims to improvise the fire service through study in the areas of fire science and emergency medical services. The scholarship committee carefully considers each application and selects the right candidate eligible for the scholarship worth $500. Each applicant has to meet specific criteria to apply for the same.

Scholarships for Children of firefighters

Below, you will find the list of scholarships for the children of firefighters, who lost their lives while being on duty. As the world moves by, the families of the firefighters have to face several challenges without their loved one. These institutions and foundations help the families in their difficult times and ensure that they are not forgotten.

  • The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) provides resources, emotional assistance, and education to the families of the firefighters who laid their lives in the line of duty. Besides, the Foundation also offers the program for young adults aging from 18-24 years whose either parent died as a firefighter during their operations with the company.
  • Fireman Association of the State of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania provides a scholarship program to assist the students further in their education through courses in Fire Sciences or related academic program. The children and grandchildren of the living or deceased firemen who were a member of FASP are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Two annual scholarships are offered to the eligible students:
  1. Worth $1000 towards a Bachelor Degree
  2. Worth $500 towards an Associate Degree

P.S. The number and amount vary each year.

  • The Electronic Security Association (ESA) offers Youth Scholarship Program to two children of firefighters. The first place winner is awarded an amount worth $7,500 to pursue their college education and the second winner is rewarded with $2,500. In order to qualify, the student has to meet specific criteria. The award results are based on their national test scores, academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities and based on an essay titled, ‘what it means to have a parent or guardian involved in securing the community’.
  • H. ‘Howie’ McClennan Scholarship by IAFF is also awarded to the child of a firefighter who died in the line of duty. The deadline for the same is February 1.
  • The Sheriff’s Association of Texas provides several scholarships to students of the deceased firefighter pursuing a college degree. The applicant must be below the age of 25 years and must have a CGPA of at least 2.5 to qualify under the scholarship program. The scholarships are awarded during fall and spring of each year. The fall’s deadline is October 15 while spring’s is March 1.
  • Also, Texas Firefighter Foundation Scholarship Fund is awarded to the children, or immediate family member of a killed/retired/disabled Texas Firefighter enrolled in Central Texas College at any campus. The applicants must have a minimum of 2.00 CGPA and have to meet specific requirements. The due date for the same is March 1.
  • The Texas Firefighters Emergency Relief & Scholarship Fund offers annual awards to the children of current/deceased/retired firefighter certified by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. The applicants must have a financial need and must be below the age of 24 years to qualify. The number of awards offered is two with a maximum value of $1000. The due date to apply is April 15.
  • The Florida Firefighters Scholarship amount is awarded to the dependents of firefighters under graduating in St. Petersburg College. The selection criteria are based on the financial need and academic achievement of the applicant.

Free Scholarships and Grants

Students who are looking for financial aid for the fire academy can opt for various grants and scholarships, which come from different sources and need not be repaid.

Different sources can be:

  • Government grants: Students can apply for grants issued by their state government just by filling up the free application form. The grants awards are based on the financial need, which the student has to mention in the application.
  • School-sponsored grants: Schools and colleges also sponsor grants based on academic performance, need and athletic skills. Students must check with their respective school office about the financial aid opportunities.
  • Professional organization: Every year, professional organizations like NFFF and IAFF offer similar opportunities to applicants to fund their education and encourage their dedication towards the community.
  • Private scholarships: Scholarships and grants are often offered by the banks directly to students. The applicants applying for private grants/scholarships are generally subjected to the credit check.

Top 5 States that Provide Firefighter Scholarships

1. California

  • California Law Enforcement Personnel Dependents Grant Program (LEPD) provides grants to the dependents and spouses of the fallen firefighters or entirely or partially disabled firefighters of California.
  • The Daniel A. Terry Scholarship under California Fire Foundation provides financial aid for higher education to the children of the fallen firefighters. To be eligible, the applicant must be under 25 years of age and must possess a high school diploma, or be in the high school’s final year.

2. New York

  • New York State Professional Firefighters Association provides scholarships and grants to the children of the fallen firefighters who were the member of NYS Professional Firefighter Association.
  • New York state scholarship provides scholarship assistance to the children of the deceased or disabled firefighter who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during period, war or national emergency.
  • New York State Association of Fire Chiefs (NYSAFC) provides the scholarship to those firefighters who wish to pursue their academic career further in the field of fire and life safety.

3. Pennsylvania

  • The Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania offers a scholarship program with an objective to assist the firefighters who desire to further their academic education.
  • The Edward Hutchinson Volunteer Firefighter Scholarship offers an associate degree, diploma and certified courses in fire science and also gives scholarships and grants to incumbent volunteer firefighters with at least three years of service.

4. Texas

  • Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program administered by Texas A&M Forest services provides safer grants for firefighters.
  • Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) provides grants to fire departments for fire equipment, fire training, and apparatus.
  • College Tuition Exemption administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board exempts the college tuition fees of volunteered firefighters pursuing a fire science degree from any Texas public college or institution.

5. Florida

  • Fire Department Education Grant Program started in the year 2004 sponsors fire departments each year and award grants for the purchase of new equipment, training, and higher education to increase the overall performance of the department.
  • The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offer Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Program to provide financial and technical assistance to the State Foresters to form, train and equip fire departments in rural areas to prevent fire casualties. A single fire department serving a rural community with 10,000 or less population is eligible for VFA funding.
  • The Florida Firefighter Assistance Grant program, administered by the Florida Department of Financial Services, provides grants to firefighters to improve the capabilities and response time of fire departments.

From the list mentioned above, it is clear that numerous organizations and foundations offer volunteer firefighter grants and scholarships to aspiring firefighters or their children/spouse/dependents of the fallen firefighter at all levels of education. This further leads to diverse employment opportunities ranging in different areas like the rescue operation, emergency medical services, shipboard fire management, conducting fire safety education, hazardous material control, etc.  Besides various career opportunities, having a fire science degree reaps many additional benefits including job security, health benefits, job satisfaction, higher earning potential, among others. Same way, having an additional degree/course helps you upgrade your skills and knowledge and makes you stand out of the crowd.

A good strategy is to determine and search which type of scholarship and grant you are eligible for and check whether you meet their required set of criteria. The conditions mostly include:

  • High level of academic achievement
  • Commitment and dedication towards serving the community or volunteer work
  • An essay or contest winner
  • Meeting the age criteria and CGPA requirements
  • Financial need