Posts Tagged ‘Fire Science’

Where Public Safety Policy Meets Higher Education – Fire Science

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Higher Education for the Fire Service

by Younes Mourchid, Ph.D.

YOUNES MOURCHID, Ph.D., is an associate professor and the director of the Degrees at a Distance Program (DDP) – Fire Science at Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, CA.


American higher education has been recently in the midst of one of the most exciting and yet challenging periods in its history. Earning a college degree is climbing toward a universal expectation. At the same time, postsecondary education faces serious fiscal constraints and the urgency to reform its curricula and approach to learning and teaching. All of this is happening at a time of unprecedented international competition in knowledge-based economies increasingly focused on intellectual capital.

According to data recently released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States has slipped from first to seventh among industrialized nations in postsecondary attainment among 25 to 34 year olds. If there was ever a time for elected officials, educators, and the public to be focused on education beyond high school, it is now. (more…)

Cogswell Fire Science Faculty Killed in Tragic Accident

Friday, April 16th, 2010

JamesFlaniganJames (Jim) Flanigan (61) passed away on April 1, 2010, from injuries he received in a car accident. Jim was a DDP instructor since 2006 and taught both Application of Fire Research and Fire Investigation & Analysis for the College.

A native of New York, Jim graduated from Queens College (B.A.) in 1971. After graduation Jim enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and completed officer candidate school reaching the rank of Lieutenant J.G. in 1973. Jim was employed as a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) for 29 years, retiring as a Senior Special Agent and Certified Fire Investigator in 2006. During his ATF career, Jim was a member of the ATF National Response Team, the ATF International Response Team, the Alameda County Arson Task Force, the San Francisco Arson Task Force, the California Conference of Arson Investigators (CCAI) and International Assn. of Arson Investigators (IAAI). After retirement, Jim worked as a fire investigator for Fire, Cause & Analysis in Berkeley, CA.

Jim is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sharon and his son Patrick. A funeral mass celebrating Jim’s life was held on Wednesday, April 7, 2010, at St. Monica’s Church, San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to: National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, or American Brain Tumor Assn.,

Earning A Fire Science Degree FESHE Style

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Overcome Common Obstacles by Following the National Fire Academy Model*


*Published in Firehouse Magazine. Reprinted with permission by the author.


When Matt Wilson, a fire captain with 10 years of service, took a hard look at his future in the fire service and evaluated his training and education credentials in light of what is required these days by fire departments to promote to leadership management positions,he realized that he does not have what it takes. He completed all required state fire marshal training courses and more, and he took academic classes here and there,but never set out to actually earn an associate’s degree from his local community college or for that matter a bachelor’s degree from a provider of the National Fire Academy baccalaureate program in his state.

Currently, in many states, a bachelor of science degree in fire science is required of junior fire professionals to promote to senior positions. Matt does not meet this requirement and is in a quandary about where to start. The prospect of going back to school, devoting long hours to studying, and balancing his job, family, and school obligations is daunting and discouraging for now.

FS_3Matt is part of an ever-growing number of fire and emergency professionals heading back to the classroom after double-digit years of hiatus. Fueled by economic factors, higher standards for promotion and increased competition, fire service veterans are finding it necessary to return to school and earn accredited fire science degrees to become eligible for promotion and update their knowledge to better serve their fire departments and communities.

The primary reason many working adults resist returning to the classroom is that it is logistically more challenging for older students to graduate than for fresh-faced undergraduates. According to the Lumina Foundation, a private research organization that specializes in studying the educational needs of underserved students, more than 30% of all college students are adult learners ages 25 and above. In reality, colleges and universities frequently focus more heavily on the needs of students below the age of 22 and oftentimes do not acknowledge and smooth out the obstacles that working adults face.

For Susan Hayward, a 45-year-old fire officer and mother of two who recently completed an associate’s degree in fire science at her local community college, fear not only long kept her from returning to school, it nearly caused her to drop out.

“I was very uncomfortable on the first night of class; I left in the middle of the class with tears in my eyes,” she recalled. “I didn’t think I was smart enough as those 18-year-old kids. I had not been in a classroom for over 20 years. I was terrified!”

An additional challenge facing fire and emergency services professionals planning to return to school is choosing a school and academic program compatible with their long-term goals, their state or fire department education requirements in terms of
accreditation and certification, and balancing school with family and work obligations. This article seeks to address these challenges and offer returning adult learners in the fire service a clear road map to follow toward attaining their goal of becoming a college graduate with an accredited education infused with excellence and certified by the National Fire Academy’s Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education consortium.

Educational Indicators

There are educational indicators to consider when selecting a program of study:


Cogswell Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Younes Mourchid, Fire Science

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009


Dr. Younes Mourchid

Dr. Younes Mourchid has been an Associate Professor and Director of Degrees at a Distance Fire Science program at Cogswell College since 2005. With a Fulbright Scholarship awarded by the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange, Younes earned a double Masters Degree from Southern Illinois University in Communication and Applied Linguistics. Younes then went on to the University of Southern California to earn a Ph.D. in International Development Education where he focused his graduate research on issues of higher education reform and globalization in the Arab world.

Younes’ current teaching and research interests revolve around co-relational topics in Middle Eastern Studies and Peace Education. His goal has been to create teaching and textual nuggets deriving directly from the perspective of peoples and native scholars of the Middle East. As an advocate of online distance education for adult learners, Younes continues to promote the value of higher education for Fire and Emergency Services personnel through the office of Degrees at Distance Program and through quarterly editorials in Firehouse Magazine.

What classes do you currently teach?

I teach a variety of Social Science courses focusing on International Relations and issues of Organizational Leadership and Development.

Do you have a favorite class to teach? If so, why?

I enjoy teaching the organizational Leadership course because it allows the class participants to investigate the nature of change in current US organizations and reflect on the components of creating and sustaining a “Learning Organization”.

Have you worked for non-academic companies in the past? Which ones? How did that experience make you a better teacher?


The Fire Service and Higher Education: Occupation vs. Profession

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Nowadays in the annals of academia and in the wards of professional schools, there is a commotion about the concept of lifelong learning and adult education in designing program curricula and in defining degree requirements. The former is generally defined as the process of acquiring knowledge or skills throughout life via education, training, work and general life experiences. The latter is generally defined as the art and science of teaching adult learners, also known as andragogy.


Fire science students from Arizona, California and Nevada may enroll in a residency program at Cogswell Polytechnical College, where they take a concentrated course for full credit in a face-to-face classroom setting with other students and a faculty member.

Much of what the fire service relies on in terms of knowledge derives from experience, not empirical research conducted by trained scientists in academic settings. We often hear fire service personnel saying in response to a complex problem, “This is how we do it around here.” Lately, however, the fire service has evolved from an occupation into a profession; a discipline that demands more complexity in the skills, ability and knowledge acquired in academic and formal training settings.

We all know of someone who has taken fire science courses at a two-year college; taken courses at state and local fire training academies and through the National Fire Academy (NFA); and achieved various levels of certification. However, these combined achievements have not evolved in a coherent and planned path. The professional development inherent in these combined achievements is usually uncoordinated and fragmented, resulting in duplications of effort and inefficiencies for students. Although the fire service offers numerous certifications, education and training entities, not all of them collaborate with one another. Most fire service agencies adhere to the same standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), but their application of the standards varies, as funding and local politics vary.