Certification by State Agencies Proposed by Qualifications Board
National group details criteria for evaluating ability of agencies to test and qualify fire service personnel
Approved state agencies would handle the certification of fire service personnel meeting national professional standards if a proposal of the National Professional Qualifications Board for the Fire Service is adopted.
The board has proposed criteria that state agencies must meet to become qualified to both test and certify fire service personnel. Certification will be based on standards for fire fighters, officers, instructors, and inspectors. The first standard, “Fire Fighter Qualifications,” NFPA 1001, was adopted and published last year. Work is continuing on the others.
The National Professional Qualifications Board has asked for comments on its proposed criteria for certifying state agencies and remarks may be sent to Martin E. Grimes, Secretary to the Board, c/o Public Protection Division, National Fire Protection Association, 470 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02210. The closing date for comments is May 1.
Power could be delegated
The board proposes that qualified state agencies have the power to delegate conduct of the certification program to “local jurisdictions or other appropriate agencies.”
Another proposal of the board is that any member of the fire service must be certified if he “satisfactorily fulfills the qualification irrespective of the method, manner or place in which that person acquired the required skills, abilities or knowledges.”
The board also proposes that men who hold positions established before the adoption of a standard “shall be considered qualified and eligible for future progression in accordance with the standards.”
The text of the proposed criteria for accreditation of state agencies to certify fire service personnel under the national professional qualifications system is as follows:
The National Professional Qualifications Board will, if requested, and subject to certain requirements, authorize within each state an agency to conduct the certification of fire service personnel in accordance with the approved National Professional Qualifications System established by the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations.
In order to be approved to conduct a certification program in the National System, the agency shall provide the Board with evidence of compliance with the following criteria:
- That the Agency shall be authorized by the state to certify fire service personnel in respect of their competence to perform fire service duties at various defined levels of responsibility.
- The agency shall be composed of a balanced representation of interested groups and/or be responsive to the views and opinions of such interested groups.
- The rules under which the certification procedures are operated shall not be discriminatory and shall be in accord with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act 1972.
- The certification process shall be available equally to personnel in all parts of the state.
- The agency may delegate, to local jurisdictions or other appropriate agencies, any part or all of its authority to conduct, in the name of the agency, the certification program. In exercising the power of delegation, the agency shall ensure that the same criteria, rules and safeguards are maintained by the body so delegated; and shall notify the secretary to the National Professional Qualifications Board that such delegation has been given.
The agency shall demonstrate that it has the capability to fulfill the following implementation criteria which shall be required to be maintained at all times:
- To establish and utilize testing procedures and levels of grading which are consistently uniform.
- To establish and utilize testing procedures which are valid and measure the performance of personnel only in relation to those skills, abilities and knowledges consistent with the requirements of any standard approved and adopted as part of the National Professional Qualification System for the Fire Service.
- To establish and utilize procedures that ensure complete impartiality, confidentiality and are safeguarded against any misuse or abuse.
- To establish and maintain procedures that ensure certification shall be granted to any person who satisfactorily fulfills the qualification irrespective of the method, manner or place in which that person acquired the required skills, abilities or knowledges.
- To conduct tests at least annually and in locations as convenient as possible for all participants.
- To ensure that adequate prior notice of all examinations and tests is promulgated.
- To ensure that facilities and equipment at test locations are adequate for the full completion of the performance objectives required to be tested.
- To ensure that adequate supervision is provided to maintain control and safety during tests.
- To ensure that qualified fire service personnel are used as proctors, examiners and test evaluators who shall be independent of, not related to, and have not been directly involved in the training of, the candidate.
Notice to Board and Withdrawal of Authority
- The certifying agency shall notify the secretary to the National Professional Qualifications Board as to date and location of all tests, at least 30 days before such tests, and shall, if the Board so requires, permit an observer nominated by the Board to attend.
- Within 60 days of conducting any test the certifying agency shall send to the secretary of the National Professional Qualifications Board a list of all candidates who took the test and the results of the test. The agency shall also provide the Board with a copy of all test instruments, instructions and other details and material by which the Board might assess compliance with both the criteria established by the Board and the proper fulfillment of any standard approved and adopted under the National Professional Qualifications System and for which candidates were tested.
- If the agency determines that a fee schedule is required in order to implement the certification program the agency shall submit to the National Professional Qualifications Board for approval the scale of fees to be charged. Only those costs required to conduct tests and issue certificates will be considered.
- The National Professional Qualifications Board reserves the right to review the certification program of any agency and to withdraw the authority to certify. The Board shall give to the agency notice of intent to withdraw authority to certify and such withdrawal shall not be effected until the opportunity has been given to the agency to request a hearing before the National Professional Qualifications Board.
Application to Existing Positions
- It is not the intent of the Board that these standards shall have the effect of rendering invalid any rank, qualification and appointment acquired prior to the adoption of this standard.
- Upon adoption of any standard, the authority having jurisdiction shall classify its existing ranks, qualifications, and appointments to determine equivalency with an appropriate level of the standard.
- An incumbent of a position established prior to adoption of a standard shall be considered qualified and eligible for future progression in accordance with the standards.
- Within one year of adopting any standard approved under the National Professional Qualifications System, the agency shall issue a certificate to all incumbents in accordance with the classification determined as in 2. above.