By Dr. Denis Onieal
Each of us has heard of some organization--government or private--that experienced the loss or compromise of data due to hacking. Many of us have had our personal email accounts hacked. Unfortunately, hacking has become a 'sport;' simply a sign of the times. Aside from the 'sport' hackers, criminals have collected personal information from several different unrelated databases in order to assemble personal information to commit fraud. As a government agency, we are not immune to this potential; we're required to protect personally identifiable information (PII).
This is a 3-month heads-up on a major change to the admissions process. In order to protect PII, we can no longer use Social Security numbers (SSAN) in our paper or on-line application process. We do, however, need a unique identifier that will allow us to record class registration, send acceptance and rejection notifications, provide stipend reimbursement (when appropriate), and record course performance and transcripts for "John Jones or Mary Jones."
That unique identifier will be a FEMA Training Identification Number (FTIN). The explanation and process are provided on the How to Apply page on the NFA Website; the requirement applies to all FEMA academies / schools. I tried the process and timed myself, it took about 90 seconds. For those applicants without home or work access to the Web, they may use a computer at a library.
Of course we realize that this change will cause headaches for students applying for classes ON and OFF Campus--2 day, 6 day, 10 day and eventually Online classes. It will cause problems for our partners in State and local fire training, including all our staffs. This will take education, patience and understanding; we're going to do our best, and ask for everyone's cooperation.
In order to ease the process, we're going to do everything we can to continuously advise and remind everyone of this upcoming change as we implement it beginning April 15th.
Again, the web address for this information is: www.usfa.fema.gov/nfa/about/attend/ftin.shtm