College Degree Impact 1 Running head: COLLEGE AND THE IMPACT ON INTERNAL CANDIDATES Executive Development The Impact of a College Degree Requirement on Internal Candidates for Promotion Steven Belau City of Rochester Fire Department Rochester, Minnesota July 2005 College Degree Impact 2 CERTIFICATION STATEMENT I hereby certify that this paper constitutes my own product, that where the language of others is set forth, quotation marks so indicate, and that appropriate credit is given where I have used the language, ideas, expressions, or writings of another. Signed: ________________________________ College Degree Impact 3 Abstract The problem was the Rochester Fire Department (Department) had not quantified the effect of a college degree requirement for promotion on the availability of an internal candidate pool for chief officer promotions by the year 2009. The research purpose was to determine if internal candidates have, or are pursuing the required degree. Using the Descriptive Method, questions relating to college activity and any impact the college requirement has on members eligible for promotion were answered using a survey. The results of the research showed that 43% of currently eligible internal candidates have a degree, but only 14% have the required degree, which demonstrated an insufficient number of internal candidates to fill anticipated vacancies. Recommendations for additional research were made. College Degree Impact 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE Abstract 3 Table of Contents 4 Introduction 5 Background and Significance 6 Literature Review 12 Procedures 16 Results 19 Discussion 27 Recommendations 32 References 35 Appendix Survey Questionnaire 38 LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Chief Officer Ages 20 Table 2 College Degrees 22 Table 3 Degree Requirement and Decision to Promote 24 Table 4 College Degree Pursuit Limiting Factors 26 College Degree Impact 5 The Impact of a College Degree Requirement on Internal Candidates for Promotion Introduction “All must recognize that professional status begins with education” (Clark et al., 1966, p. 15). With these words, written in 1966 as a statement of national significance by an ad hoc committee of fire service members assembled to examine the fire problem at the Wingspread Conference on Fire Service Administration, Education and Research, the fire service began a serious and systematic change in inertia. Just showing up for work everyday at the firehouse would no longer be enough to be promoted to the most important positions. However, lack of interest in pursuit of higher education by firefighters poses serious problems to professional development (Bercik, Connealy, Lowe, & Mooney, 2004). Many fire departments have established educational requirements for promotion to chief officer positions (e.g., Weir, 2001; Diaz, 1993). The research problem is that the Rochester Fire Department (Department) has not quantified the effect of a college degree requirement on the availability of an internal candidate pool for chief officer promotions by the year 2009. The purpose of this research is to determine whether Department members have the required college degree or are pursuing the college degree required for promotion to chief officer positions. Using the descriptive method, the research seeks to answer these questions: College Degree Impact 6 1. How many chief officer position vacancies are anticipated over the next five years? 2. Do Department members eligible for chief officer promotion have college degrees, and if so, what types? 3. Are any Department members eligible for chief officer promotion currently pursuing college degrees in fire science (the degree required for promotion)? 4. How many credit hours have been achieved towards degree completion by members pursuing college degrees? 5. How does the college degree requirement affect a member’s decision to seek promotion? 6. Are there any factors limiting members from pursuing a college degree? Background and Significance The City of Rochester Fire Department (Department) is a full service, paid department serving the City and the four surrounding townships. Ninety-three persons are employed in the Department. There are three civilian employees, four fire prevention bureau specialists, a chief, a deputy chief, and eighty-four shift personnel. The shift personnel compose three shifts. An assistant chief supervises each shift. There are six companies, (four engines and two ladders). A captain supervises each company. The Common Council of the City of Rochester created a Fire Fighter’s Civil Service Commission (Commission) pursuant to Minnesota Statute Chapter 420. The Commission is composed of three citizens from the community. The mayor appoints College Degree Impact 7 Commission members. Commissioners serve a term of three years and may serve successive terms. The purpose of a civil service commission is to promote efficiency in government service through elimination of political patronage in employment decisions (Klingner & Nalbandian, 1985, p. 13). Minnesota Statutes Chapter 420 requires a civil service commission to promulgate rules that govern selection, retention and promotion of employees in the classified service. The Commission classifies each position within the Department based on the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the position. The Commission develops entrance and promotional requirements in terms of education, training and physical agility. The Commission conducts an examination process for each position within the Department. The statute further requires the Commission to establish and maintain eligibility or promotional lists from which candidates for the various positions are selected. Each list is valid for two years from the date the list the Commission certifies said list. As vacancies occur, the Commission submits the top three names from the eligibility list to the Common Council of the city. The Common Council then selects a name for appointment. In 1989, the Commission determined that a college education was important for the positions of chief, deputy chief, and assistant chief. The Commission felt that higher education was important to increasing the professionalism of the Department, that it would provide an opportunity for renaissance, and expand the worldview of chief officers. Fire departments can be highly College Degree Impact 8 inertial organizations and the Commission hoped that the additional perspectives developed through college education would facilitate evolution. The Commission adopted a rule requiring an associate’s degree in fire science by September 1, 1998 for position holders promoted after August 20, 1990. At the time the Commission adopted the rule, none of the Department’s members had college degrees meeting the requirements of the new rule. The Commission believed that the eight-year period would provide current Department members desiring to promote ample time to complete a college degree. The Commission wanted college-educated persons in the upper level management positions. Promotion from within the current membership of the Department has been the rule. The Commission intended to place college-educated persons in chief officer positions through application of the new rule requiring persons promoted to chief officer positions after 1990 to possess a minimum of an associate’s degree in fire science or its equivalent by September 1998. After September 1998, applicants for the promotional examinations would have to have the required college degree. In promulgating the rule, the Commission did not consider: 1. The long-standing selection process used to hire personnel at the entry level of fire fighter (the pool from which promotions are made) was not designed to select persons with an academic interest. The process used was intended to select practically oriented, common sense holding, and physically capable order takers. College Degree Impact 9 2. There may be an inertial perception that persons without college degrees had been performing the duties of the promotional positions for years with apparent success that represents reality to Department members. This perception may erode Department members’ understanding of the Commission’s intent. 3. Members otherwise eligible for promotion may regard the cost/benefit ratio of paying for a college education in order to take an exam for a position that the member might not get, as adverse. 4. The duties and benefits of the promoted positions might not be attractive enough to overcome the adverse cost/benefit ratio in number three above. 5. The potential exists for total defeat of the rule’s goal through utilization of college programs which are not regarded as legitimate academic disciplines. 6. Degree granting programs that do not appear to be scholarly create the risk of eroding the legitimacy of the rule’s intent. There have been past impacts on the Department. A deputy chief promoted under the new rule was required to have an associate’s degree by September 1998. The deputy chief had made no effort to attain the requisite degree. The Fire Chief (Chief) advised the Commission of the pending collision between the deputy chief and the Commission’s rule. Department members made an argument asking that college degrees submitted under the rule be from approved colleges offering the National Fire College Degree Impact 10 Academy fire science curriculum. The Commission decided that a fire science degree from any accredited school would suffice. The Commission rebuffed efforts by the affected deputy chief to obtain a modification of the rule to eliminate the rule or grant additional time for obtaining the college degree. The Commission specifically drafted a new rule to allow removal of an officer who fails to comply with the college degree rule. The Commission also affirmed their commitment to the college degree rule mandating completion of the degree by September of 1998. Two immediate vacancies in assistant chief positions would remain subject to the college degree rule. The Commission conducted an examination for assistant chief. Numerous highly capable Department members who did not have college degrees did not apply for the exam. Two qualified candidates with a degree as well as five other candidates who did not have college degrees sat for the exam. The deputy chief took the examination for the lower position and achieved the highest score. The second highest finisher on the assistant chief examination did not have, nor had started, a college degree either. The college degree is not a factor considered in the examination process. The promotions became effective in June 1998. The two new assistant chiefs had three months to go from high school diploma holders to college graduates. Both of the new assistant chiefs used a distance-learning program. The newly appointed assistant chiefs received their associate degrees by the September 1, 1998 deadline. College Degree Impact 11 The issue presently impacts the Department. It is the belief of the fire department administration that very few members have obtained the required college degree. The administration notes that a large number of officers are eligible to retire which will create vacancies in chief officer positions (Leland, 2004, p. 7). A lack of candidates meeting the college requirement creates an immediate problem given the anticipated retirements within two years of chief officers. The issue will impact the Department’s future if insufficient numbers of qualified internal candidates are available to fill promotional positions. This would require a seismic shift in organizational dynamics if external candidates were needed to fill line leadership positions. The character and nature of the membership may suffer as well if opportunities to promote are lost. The administration of the Department is contemplating the elimination of the college degree requirement. This response is problematic in itself in that higher education is rapidly becoming the standard for executive fire officers (see USFA, 2005). Abandonment or reduction in emphasis of the college degree requirement carries the potential of a loss or reduction in effectiveness and legitimacy of fire department leaders (Clark et al., 1966; Latin, 1992, p. 2). This research is directly related to the United States Fire Administration operational objective of responding appropriately in a timely manner to emerging issues confronting the fire service (National Fire Academy, 2003, p. II-2). The importance College Degree Impact 12 of higher education in fire service leaders is rapidly becoming an established expectation. It is imperative that the fire service take the actions necessary to address this developing matter. Fire departments must analyze their memberships and develop the required plans to develop their internal customers into candidates able to meet contemporary challenges. This research is also specifically related to the major goal of the Executive Development Course of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, understanding and managing organizational culture and change, found in Unit 7 of the Executive Development Course Guide starting on page SM 7-1. The college degree requirement for promotion to chief officer positions in the Rochester Fire Department is a huge cultural change. The Department must make extensive use of the practices and techniques contained within this unit to facilitate the transitioning of its personnel with leadership potential from practical task performers to theoretical and strategic thinkers. Higher education is part of this process. The researcher will use the descriptive research method as delineated on page 14 of Module 2 of the January 2004 EFOP Applied Research Self-Study Course student guide. Literature Review The National Fire Protection Association standard, NFPA 1021 Standard for fire officer Professional Qualifications, 2003 Edition does not include a college degree or higher-level academic studies among the recommended qualifications. Annex A of the document suggests that the authority having jurisdiction College Degree Impact 13 may require college degrees (National Fire Protection Association, 2003, p. A.1.1). However, as early as 1967, Hilton F. Jarrett wrote: If the fire service is to meet the technological and social challenges of the present and future, some of its members, especially those who are or will be in the executive positions, will need a broad knowledge base for making decisions. This implies college-level preparation. (p. 16) The National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program currently requires an associate’s level college degree and soon will be requiring a bachelor’s degree for admission (USFA, 2005). The three items seem to suggest a variance in importance of college. Mr. Jarrett (Jarrett, p. 16) and the participants in the Wingspread Conference (Clark et al., 1966, p. 10) foresaw the importance in the fire service of the knowledge, skills and abilities that accompany higher education. The National Fire Academy has been a leader in acting whereas the National Fire Protection Association is maintaining a middle ground, which may be reflective of the fire service in general. The general body of research suggests that college education is important and needed. Diaz (1993, p. 18) notes that higher education improves the level of service provided by a fire department. He goes on to conclude that formal education is actually required to prepare current fire officers for promotion to executive levels and to improve their competence (Diaz, p. 19). Cochran (2001, p. 13) asserts that fire service managers need college degrees College Degree Impact 14 for credibility and to be deemed “true professionals”. Latin (1992, p. 4) opined that the fire service has not done an adequate job training or even of informing future fire executives of what they must achieve to be successful leaders. Hill (2000, p. 13) concluded that chief fire officers need a minimum of a bachelors degree in a fire science or administrative discipline. He feels that such a requirement strengthens the local fire department, the fire service generally, as well as the individual (Hill, p. 13). Another author notes that attitudes towards higher education are evolving with more and more people obtaining college educations (Hollas, 1994, p. 2). Weir (2001) describes a phased in approach to a college prerequisite for promotion to chief fire officer positions, which was generally regarded within the subject department as successful. This appears in contrast to the experience in the Rochester Fire Department. Moore (2002) explored the concept of requiring a college degree for entry into a fire department. He concluded that critical thinking skills are important to fire service leaders and the best way to assure a viable pool of candidates was to require a college degree of any applicants. He also noted a divergence in the opinions of his survey population; although a majority agreed with the proposition that a college degree provided important and necessary skills for supervision and management (Moore, 2002, p. 16), a majority also opposed requiring a college degree for promotion. This finding is somewhat analogous to the situation presently under examination in the Rochester Fire College Degree Impact 15 Department. Of particular interest was the work of Steven Achilles (2003) who examined why larger pools of internal candidates were not developing for the chief officer positions in his department of study. He found a large number of factors such as residency requirements, lack of overtime, scheduling changes and increased workloads for chief officer positions were viewed negatively and outweighed any positive attributes of the job. Perhaps this offers insight into the findings of Moore (2002) as well as a possible alternative explanation for present conditions in the subject department of this research project. Parks (1996, p. 15) identified a lack of incentive as a cause for no or limited action in pursuit of college degrees. Crawford (2002) discussed the perspective of city managers and administrators on the importance of a college education. Higher education was identified as one of the positive characteristics by city managers (Crawford, p. 21). Fire department promotional programs should include provisions to allow interested members to pursue college degrees at accredited colleges (Carter & Rausch, 1993, p. 145). College degrees should develop a core set of capacities or abilities. Policymakers want critical- thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills developed (Miller, 2003, p. 5). The literature review provided a great deal of background information on college degrees in the fire service. A number of the articles explored the prevalence of college degrees among department members. Other articles and books identified the importance and increasing trend of college degree requirements. College Degree Impact 16 Additional references provided information on motivational considerations in acquisition of college degrees as well as possible de-motivators. The entire literature review has influenced the research project by providing a greater depth of understanding of the questions being posed. This additional understanding will be useful in analyzing the outcomes of the research as well as discussing the implications of the data. Furthermore, the literature review will provide significant background for developing recommendations. Procedures The researcher reviewed the Fire Civil Service Commission’s rule on college degree requirements. The research questions specific to this Applied Research Project were also reviewed. A series of questions were then developed with a specific focus on college activities. The questions were designed to acquire data strictly relevant to the research questions so information meaningful to the purpose of the research would be collected. Too broad a series of questions would distract from the research purpose and dilute the ability to address the research problem. A series of nine questions was selected. The mechanism chosen to ask the questions was a survey instrument. After choosing the questions and mechanism for asking the questions, a target population was selected. Present occupants of the position classification of captain were chosen for sampling. Developing data on college degree activity in the rank of captain provides information on the immediate issue of near-future candidate pools for anticipated retirements. College Degree Impact 17 Captains have the required time in grade for promotion whereas firefighters and motor operators do not. The selection of current captains as the sample population was therefore based on the practical implications of all those contained within the sample population are otherwise qualified for promotion. Sampling of the rest of the Department membership is discussed in the Recommendations section. The survey instrument was submitted to the assistant chief and the fire chief for review and approval. After approval was obtained, the survey was distributed by U.S. Mail to the home addresses of each of the captains in the Department, with one exception. One Department captain does not list his address publicly. His survey was hand delivered to him at his assigned fire station. Each mailing included a stamped return envelope addressed to the researcher. No means of identifying the survey respondent was used. A cover letter was included which indicated the researcher’s name, survey authorization, the purpose of the survey, instructions on completing the survey with an estimate of the total time required to complete the survey, that the summary results would be related to the fire chief and that confidentiality and anonymity would be maintained. Two electronic mailings were sent to remind members of the target population to complete and return their surveys at their earliest opportunity. The survey population was encouraged to participate, but nothing in the initial survey mailing or the College Degree Impact 18 follow up e-mails was designed or intended to suggest that participation in the survey was mandatory. Limitations of the procedures used included a number of factors. Participation in the survey was voluntary; therefore, there was no way to assure full participation by the target population. Veracity of responses is also a limitation. The survey was anonymous which may in some circumstances provide cover for a participant who for reasons unknown may choose not to answer the questions accurately. The anonymity of the survey also precludes the use of documentation to support any answers in the survey, which can be a useful crosscheck technique. The importance of the anonymity of the survey to placing participants at ease was believed to outweigh the potential risk of inaccurate replies. Another limitation of the survey is the inability to identify and correct any confusion over the questions. In this survey, the questions were primarily of a yes/no or single word answer variety and the two open-ended questions at the conclusion of the survey were of a straightforward nature intended to minimize the confusion risk. Finally, the survey was applied to a finite population. The finite population is of a size that achieving a 95% confidence level in the responses being representative requires all but one of the members of the target population to return the survey. In the absence of 100% return of the surveys, it may be possible for results to be skewed depending on the percentage of non- returns and how the persons who did not return a survey would have answered. College Degree Impact 19 The first research question of the Applied Research Project attempted to quantify the number of chief officer vacancies anticipated over the next five years. This question was answered by comparing the retirement eligibility dates with the birthdates of the current position holders. All other questions of the Applied Research Project were addressed using the survey method described above. Of the nineteen surveys distributed, fourteen were returned. Results Question one of the research explored the anticipated vacancies in chief officer positions over the next five years. There are six chief officer positions in the Rochester Fire Department. The current age of the six current position holders ranges from forty-four years of age to fifty-nine years of age. Table 1 shows the current age and age in five years of the current position holders. College Degree Impact 20 Table 1 Chief Officer Ages Officer Current age Age in five years 1 59 64 2 57 62 3 57 62 4 50 55 5 49 54 6 44 49 College Degree Impact 21 Therefore, to answer the first research question, there are four chief officer vacancies predicted within the next five years. In response to the second question inquiring into the prevalence of college degrees and what type of degrees they are, six of the fourteen respondents report having a college degree. The responses are shown in Table 2. Forty-three percent of the respondents reported having college degrees. Two of the fourteen respondents reported having a college degree in fire science. Of those reporting a college degree, 33% have a fire science degree. College Degree Impact 22 Table 2 College Degrees Type Major BA History BS Recreation Administration BS Industrial Engineering BS Fire Science AA Fire Science AA (undesignated, but reported not in fire science) College Degree Impact 23 The third research question asked if any of the captains were pursuing degrees in fire science. None of the respondents replied affirmatively to this question. The fourth question examined the number of college credits among those without a college degree. Four of eight respondents reported college credits ranging from twenty five to one hundred sixteen college credits. A fifth respondent replied that he or she was unsure how many college credits he or she had “so it’s not many”. Research question five sought to determine if the college degree requirement affected the decision by the captain to seek promotion. The responses are listed in Table 3. Sixty-four percent of the survey respondents stated they would take a promotional test for chief officer if there were no college degree requirement. Of the two respondents who meet the college degree requirement, one stated yes he/she would take a promotional exam if there were no degree requirement and the other respondent did not answer the question. Three of the other four non-fire science degree holders replied they would take a promotional exam for chief officer. The fourth respondent in this sub group replied “no” to the question. Five of eight (63%) non-degree holders stated they would take the promotional exam for a chief officer position if there were no degree requirement. The other three in this sub-group stated definitively they would not take a promotional exam for a chief officer’s position (37%). College Degree Impact 24 Table 3 College Degree Requirement and Decision to Promote “If there was no college degree requirement for chief officers would you take the test for promotion to a chief officer position?” YES 9 NO 4 No reply 1 College Degree Impact 25 The sixth research question sought to identify any factors limiting members from pursuing a college degree. These responses are shown in Table 4. Of the eight respondents who do not have a college degree, 38% reported that there were no factors limiting them from obtaining a college degree. Another 38% reported that time was a limiting factor. Twenty-five percent stated that the pursuit of a college degree was not a priority for them and listed that as a limiting factor. Of the non-fire science degree holders, one respondent opined that the fire department needed to decide what the requirement was going to be in citing on going discussions about changing the rules. Another respondent from this sub group cited an unwillingness to return to school as a limiting factor and the remaining two non-fire science degree holders did not list any limiting factors. College Degree Impact 26 Table 4 College Degree Pursuit Limiting Factors Collegea Majorb Factors listedc BA not fire Department indecision on requirements BS not fire none indicated BS not fire unwillingness to go back to school BS fire none indicated AA fire none indicated AA not reported none indicated 116 credits time & purpose 50 credits not a priority few credits not a priority 30 credits time/family; cost/benefit 30 credits no limiting factors none no limiting factors none no limiting factors none perceived value & time a College indicates college degree attained or extent of college work in the absence of degree completion. b Major identifies whether the college degree is the required fire science degree or a degree in another field. Specific majors were not listed to maintain confidentiality of responses. c In this column, “none indicated” means there was no reply to the survey question, whereas “no limiting factor” means the respondent specifically replied “no” to the question of whether there are factors limiting his or her pursuit of a college degree. College Degree Impact 27 Discussion The research produced a number of interesting results. Achilles (2003, p. 28) found that a number of disincentives for promotion to chief officer existed for internal candidates in his study population which manifested itself as limiting the number of internal candidates seeking chief officer promotions. This is in contradistinction to the information developed in the instant study. Sixty-four percent of the survey population indicated they would test for a chief officer position if the college degree requirement were not present. This finding suggests that in the Rochester Fire Department, a required college degree in fire science is perceived as a barrier by internal candidates who would otherwise seek promotion. Achilles (p. 33) also cites financial incentives as an important consideration in confronting internal candidate pool development. Only one (7%) of the survey respondents in the Rochester survey indicated that cost was a factor limiting his or her pursuit of a college degree. Bercik et al. (2004, p. 88) note the numerous obstacles that stand between full time employees and college education. Major factors cited by Bercik et al. include personal time commitment and expense. The Rochester research showed that only 38% of the respondents actually reported time as a factor inhibiting pursuit of a college degree. This may be due to the availability of distance learning fire science programs, which are known to be available to Rochester fire department members and have been successfully completed using non-committed on duty College Degree Impact 28 time, which reduces the impact on personal and family considerations. Surprisingly, only one respondent cited the cost versus the benefit of the college degree as a factor limiting pursuit of a college degree. Given the significant expense of a college class ($1500-$2000, personal communication, Kris Jungels, 2005), it is unknown why this factor was not considered significant by the majority of the non-fire science degree holders as an impediment affecting their decisions to pursue a college degree or chief officer promotions. Bercik et al. also point out cultural barriers within fire departments that serve to diminish “subordinates’ educational efforts” (p. 88). Over 50% of the survey participants in the Rochester study said either there were no limiting factors to their pursuit of a college degree or that a college degree was not a priority for them. This may reflect the cultural influences contained within the Rochester Fire Department. Further study on the question of organization cultural influence is warranted. Cochran (2001, p. 17) also found that sufficient incentives were essential to inspire fire department members to pursue higher education. Jarrett (1967, p. 15) pointed out that professional development of the fire executive requires college education. Despite the large body of evidence developed continuously since his observations, it is apparent that in the current study population, that view, although it may be accepted (this was not part of the study, and so therefore, no conclusions are made or offered) the data show that it is not adopted. None of the non- fire science degree holders is presently engaged in pursuit of College Degree Impact 29 the requisite fire science degree. The lack of current college degree activity in the study population, which does not have the requisite fire degree, may reflect the mixed signals received from the organization. These include the absence of a significant tuition reimbursement program, on going discussions of alternative paths to promotional exams bypassing the college degree requirement, and a possible perception of ambivalence towards the college requirement by fire department leadership. It would be of interest in further research to assess the degree to which members of the study population as well as the fire department administration shares the conclusions of Cochran, Crawford (2002) or of Weir (2001) that college educated chief officers are essential to successful fire department administration. Moore (2002, p. 16) found that fire department members in his study generally agreed a college education was important for successful supervision or management, yet in the same study population, less than half felt that college education should be considered in the promotional process. Moore (p. 16) theorizes that the contradiction is because most of the respondents do not have a college degree or significant college time, yet they still want to be considered for promotion. The Rochester study findings are analogous in that a large percentage of the survey participants are interested in promoting to chief officer positions, but none of the participants without a fire degree is making any effort to obtain the degree. The researcher interprets the results of the study as: College Degree Impact 30 1. Three of six (50%) chief officers are eligible for retirement now. One chief officer will be eligible for full benefit retirement within five years. One additional chief officer will be eligible for early retirement with reduced benefits within the next five years. Sixty-seven percent of chief officers will be eligible for retirement in five years or less. Based on the survey results, there will be insufficient internal candidates to fill the chief officer vacancies over the next five years given the current educational requirement. The survey showed there are two internal candidates who possess the required fire degree. The five members of the surveyed group who did not return the survey may have the required degree. This would alter the above interpretation. 2. Members of the surveyed group do have college degrees. Forty-three percent of the surveyed group has a college degree. Fourteen percent of the surveyed group has the currently required fire degree. The types of degree vary widely (see Table 2). Hollas (1994), Crawford (2002), Miller (2003) and others cite the value of a college education as providing a basic set of advanced intellectual capacities that provide increased opportunities for problem solving, critical thinking, strategic planning and communication. If the core value of college is expanding one’s ability to think, then it is possible that the current college degree requirement is too restrictive. It is possible or even likely that the college degree holders in disciplines other than fire science possess the same higher College Degree Impact 31 education based skills and abilities as those who possess the fire science degree. This is an area for further research. 3. None of the surveyed group is presently working on a fire science college degree, (or any other degree). It is again possible that the five members of the survey group who did not return the survey would alter the conclusions if their information were known. This result shows that no additional internal candidates for promotion to chief officer will be generated from the survey population given the current educational requirement. 4. Table 4 shows the number of college credits earned by non-degree holders in the survey population. Opportunities exist for these members to obtain a required college degree. Suitable motivation must be identified to make this possible however. The absence of any current activity by these members suggests insufficient incentives are available. 5. In the survey 64% of the participants stated they would take chief officer promotional exams if there was no educational requirement. Excluding survey participants who have the fire degree, two-thirds of the remainder of the study group said they would take a promotional exam for chief officer. This highly suggests that there would be more than enough internal candidates for the anticipated vacancies. 6. As indicated above, a very surprising result was the relative absence of expense as a factor limiting members of the survey group from pursuing the required college degree. Only one survey respondent tangentially mentioned expense in a College Degree Impact 32 reference to cost of degree versus benefit. Also somewhat unexpected was the expression of there being no limiting factors at all or, a null response in 42% of the responses (excluding the two survey returns indicating the required fire degree had been attained) to the question on factors limiting members from pursuing a college degree. The researcher had hoped additional insight could be obtained into whether or not there were limiting factors to attaining the required college degree. The implications of the results are that the Rochester Fire Department does not have sufficient numbers of internal candidates to fill anticipated chief officer positions. The results provide an opportunity to address the issue. The results bring into objective focus that which has been speculated on. Recommendations • The survey should be extended to the ranks of firefighter and motor operator. This will further quantify the number of college degrees present among the department membership and facilitate decision-making by assessing the college degree impact beyond the immediate term. • A review of the purpose of the college degree requirement should be undertaken. The review should identify the characteristics and capabilities desired in college graduates as they relate to fire service management and leadership. College Degree Impact 33 • A mechanism for deciding on the merit of continuing the restriction on the major course of study for the required college degree should be developed. • The cultural values within the Rochester Fire Department concerning higher education should be studied. The perception of the value of higher education should be assessed, in both the rank-and-file and the fire department management. A plan for alignment of the determined cultural value on higher education and the current perception of the value should be developed. • Evaluation of the merit of requiring a college degree for entrance to the Rochester Fire Department should be conducted. Other fire departments have implemented such a requirement. The benefit to such a requirement is it transfers the burden of financing the education to the employee and removes it from the residents of the jurisdiction. • Consideration of alternative methods to qualifying internal candidates for chief officer examinations should be undertaken. Any alternative methods should be sensitive to the perception of fairness by providing some method of providing credit to internal candidates who have obtained the required degree in the expectation that there would not be an option. • Examination of departmental priorities could possibly result in increased resources being allocated to a tuition reimbursement program, which would increase the potential for internal candidates to seek the required college degree. College Degree Impact 34 • Additional research into the viability and desirability of establishing a cooperative effort between the Greater Rochester Area University Center and the Rochester Fire Department to develop a fire science degree program locally should be undertaken. The benefits of such a program would be symbiotic. Fire department members could achieve college degrees important to their vertical and horizontal mobility. The University Center and the community benefit from increased higher educational opportunities and enrollment. College Degree Impact 35 References Achilles, S. E. (2003, August). Are we discouraging company officers from becoming chief officers? (LRC 36234). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Bercik, R., Connealy, C., Lowe, B., & Mooney, L. (2004, April). Stop wasting time and pursue your college degree. Firehouse, 29, 87-90. Carter, H. R., & Rausch, E. (1993). Management in the fire service (2nd ed.). Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association. Clark, W. E., Favreau, D., Gratz, D., O'Hagan, J., Royer, K., Schick, L., et al. (1966). Statements of national significance to the fire problem in the United States. Wingspread Conference on Fire Service Administration, Education and Research, I, 15. Cochran, K. J. (2001, April). Evaluating higher education requirements in the fire service (LRC 32055). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Crawford, B. A. (2002, December). Seeking the top job: considerations for those seeking the position of fire chief (LRC 16431). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Diaz, R. L. (1993, September). A study of educational requirements for the position of battalion chief in fire departments across the U.S. (LRC No. 23323). Emmitsburg: National Fire Academy. College Degree Impact 36 Hill, J. L. (2000, January). Chief Fire Officer Qualifications (LRC 30732). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Hollas, R. (1994, December). College education: a requirement for promotion? (LRC 25162). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Jarrett, H. F. (1967 September 2). The Wingspread Conference: a challenge to action (SP-2937). Santa Monica: System Development Corporation. Klingner, D. E., & Nalbandian, J. (1985). Public personnel management context and strategies (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.. Latin, O. (1992, January). Command staff executives need a college degree (LRC No. 19297). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Leland, J. (2004, February). Continuing a legacy-succession planning for the Rochester fire department (LRC 37249). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Miller, M. A. (2003, September-October). The meaning of the baccalaureate. Retrieved from The California Higher Education Policy Center Web Site: http://collegelevellearning.org/meaning.pdf Moore, J. L. (2002, May). The implications of requiring a college degree for entry level firefighters in the Delhi Township Fire Department (LRC 36799). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. College Degree Impact 37 National Fire Academy (2003, September). II-2,5,e. In Executive Fire Officer Program applied research guidelines (Rev. ed.). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. National Fire Protection Association (2003). Standard for fire officer professional qualifications (NFPA 1021). Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association. Parks, J. S. (1996, May). Increased educational requirements for fire officers (LRC 27178). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. U.S. Fire Administration. (n.d.). USFA training & education EFOP selection criteria. Retrieved May 15, 2005, from http://www.usfa.fema.gov/training/nfa/efop/selection.shtm Weir, C. J. (2001, September). Baccalaureate prerequisite for promotion to chief fire officer positions in the City of Fort Lauderdale (LRC 32292). Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. College Degree Impact 38 Appendix This is a confidential survey authorized by Chief Kapler. The intent of the survey is to assess the impact on internal candidates of the current fire science college degree requirement for chief officer promotional examination. The purpose of the survey is to determine how many captains have college degrees and if any have the degree currently required by the Civil Service Rules for promotion to chief officer positions. The summary results will be made available to Chief Kapler. 1. Do you have a college degree? 2. If yes, is it an Associates or Bachelors? 3. If yes, is it in fire science? 4. If not in fire science, what is the degree title or major? 5. If you do not have a college degree, are you working towards a fire science degree? If yes, (a) How many credit hours have you completed so far? (b) What year do you plan on completing the degree? 6. If you are enrolled in college currently, what is the degree you are pursuing (bachelors, associates, masters, other and degree major)? 7. If you do not have a degree and you are not currently enrolled in college, do you have any college credits, and if so, how many? College Degree Impact 39 8. Are there any factors limiting you from pursuing a college degree, and if so, what are they? 9. If there was no college degree requirement for chief officers (assistant, deputy, and chief) would you take the test for promotion to a chief officer position?