Professional Qualifications Federal or State Responsibility?

Issue 11 and Volume 163.

BY BOBBY HALTON The fire service has from time to time considered the need for establishing and enforcing nationally established standards for professional firefighter qualifications vs. the current system of state-managed professional standards. The argument against state or local control is the wide array of differences in qualifications, mandatory continuing educational hours, and difficulty in lateral movement across state lines. The question must be decided on one overriding issue: Which system would best serve the fire service in terms of service delivery to our citizens? We exist to serve our communities in a wide variety of ways and through a vast number of organizational models. Currently, the standards for professional qualification are a state issue; control is for the most part regionally managed. A major benefit is accessibility to the standard-developing and -managing process. This allows the firefighters delivering service in those areas the ability to effect changes that they…

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