Firefighter certification requirements vary between different states and localities. While a firefighter may meet the minimum requirements for New York state certification, additional training may be required to meet the standards of the New York City Fire Department. Training programs may be accredited by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC). Both of these accreditations are generally accepted by states, but this may not be the case for positions within the Department of Defense (DOD).
Firefighter I Certification
All jurisdictions require that firefighters complete an NFPA or IFSAC accredited firefighter training program. The basic program requires about 200 hours of classroom study and practical training. Some states, like Florida, require that the firefighter work as a professional for a six to twelve month probationary period before certification is awarded. Receiving firefighter certification in one state does not necessarily certify a firefighter in other states.
Different Training Requirements
Different jurisdictions have different requirements for training and certification since types of fires vary across locations. While rural Colorado fire departments may require that firefighters receive training in forest fires or search and rescue, New York City, Chicago and Atlanta fire departments may require that firefighters have special training in high rise fires or HAZMAT. This is the primary reason for the variance of firefighting requirements from one department to another.
Testing for Firefighter Certification
Firefighters seeking employment with state or local governments must pass a civil service test before being considered as a candidate for a position. After completing a firefighter training program they must pass a state certification test for a Firefighter I certification. This is standard in all jurisdictions but some states and urban fire departments may require that firefighters have additional training before obtaining certification.
Federal Firefighter Requirements
The Department of Defense oversees federal firefighters and while they do not grant specific certifications, their requirements for firefighters are stringent. DOD firefighters must take and pass Firefighter I and Firefighter II training courses through schools accredited by the IFSAC. They must also have HAZMAT certification and certification in aircraft rescue fire fighting. EMT, wildfire and driver/operator certifications are also desirable.
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Meeting DOD Requirements
Many firefighter training programs and schools are not accredited through IFSAC, requiring aspiring DOD firefighters to seek training out of state. There are different levels of HAZMAT certification, and the HAZMAT/WMD certification program, which takes about 10 days to complete, is preferred. Firefighters who are not members of the military are required to have experience before being considered for positions with the DOD.
Finding Information about Firefighter Certification
Since firefighter certification requirements differ between jurisdictions, the best way to find information about requirements is by visiting the websites of states or fire departments where an individual plans to apply for employment. The only standard requirements are completion of the civil service exam, completion of firefighter training and completion of the state certification exam. Prospective employers may be able to provide the information on minimum requirements.
At this time there are few standardized requirements for earning firefighter certification. While the DOD has stringent standards for firefighters, they have no certification protocol. Aspiring firefighters should contact local or state fire departments for the most accurate certification information.