Interview with retired Fire Marshal Myers: When you are expected to be the expert

Blog Post created by kategreene Employee on Apr 14, 2014

Martin Myers is the retired Fire Marshal of the City of Kalamazoo and Coordinator of Fire Inspectors Program for the State of Michigan. Marty recently spent a few minutes with us recalling his promotion to Fire Marshal in 1985 and sharing his experiences with NFPA Certification programs. His dedication to the mentorship and development of new inspectors as well as the development of training programs is impressive.  In 2011, he was awarded the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society President's Award for his efforts in coordinating and leading NFPA training programs.

When I was promoted to Fire Marshal in 1985, I was promoted on a Tuesday and moved into the office on Wednesday.  It was a quick transition and the department advised me that I would be trained as schools became available.  I did attend Fire Investigation Training but did not receive any training on code inspections.  I had been in the office for one week when the phone rang. On the phone was a property owner; he had questions about fire codes for his property.  He was looking to me to be the expert.  I immediately looked at all the NFPA codebooks and other codebooks but wondered where to begin.  I had to tell the owner I would call him back with an answer.  The next day an architect brought in plans for a 400-unit apartment complex he wanted to build and wanted me to review the requirements for him to start.  I had motivation to do a good job for the department and community, to make the community safer, but I was limited by the lack of good training available.

Twelve years ago the fire service organizations of Michigan got together and began to ask the question -- how can we train our Inspectors and Fire Marshals better? The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society was the lead organization to meet with the NFPA Certification Department to begin the discussion of what programs they had to offer.

The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society (MFIS) created a partnership with the NFPA to offer the NFPA Fire Inspector-I course in the state of Michigan.  This course was turned into an 80-hour course administered by the MFIS.  Following completion of the course all attendees would take the NFPA exam and practical inspection.  Passing all assessments would result in the individual becoming certified by the NFPA.  The NFPA certificate would be recognized by the State of Michigan and that individual would be a state certified fire inspector in Michigan.

100x100.CFIThis Fire Inspector-I course allowed anyone wanting to become an inspector or Fire Marshal to be trained.  The new trainings would allow new inspectors or Fire Marshals to be trained on the codes and answer questions for the professionals on projects in the community.  This course also trained fire personnel on how to properly adopt fire codes in their community.

In February of 2014 the state of Michigan passed a law stating that anyone certified in NFPA Fire Inspector-I, NFPA Fire Inspector-II, and NFPA Fire Plan Examiner (NFPA Plan Review) can now be registered with the State of Michigan Fire Marshals office. This was a long-term result of the improvements in the quality of education and training of fire personnel.  This new level of recognition will allow anyone that has all 3 levels of certification to inspect certain levels of mechanical and fire protection systems.

100x100.CFI-IIThe high level of education and certification from the NFPA Fire Inspector-I, NFPA Fire Inspector-II, and NFPA Fire Plan Examiner (NFPA Plan Review) class and examination has become a minimum standard for any department to follow when their Fire Inspectors are promoted to Fire Marshal and required to perform these jobs.  The partnership between the State of Michigan, Michigan Fire Inspectors Society, and the NFPA Certification Department has greatly impacted the quality of personnel conducting fire inspections and code related work in the community.  The Michigan Fire Inspectors Society offers an 80-hour class for Fire Inspector-I and 32-hour class for NFPA Fire Plan Examiner (NFPA Plan Review) and 32-hour class for NFPA Fire Inspector-II.

100x100.CFPEThe private industry has noted they like the diversity of the program and graduates are not limited to one area, so the graduates of NFPA Fire Inspector-I, NFPA Fire Inspector-II and NFPA Fire Plan Examiner (NFPA Plan Review) can assist where needed.  In the state of Michigan the development of the NFPA Certification in Fire Inspector-I, Fire Inspector-II, and Fire Plan Examiner has created a high level of training available to all agencies.  It has demonstrated to the community and citizens that because of this improvement in education and certification the citizens are safer and future developments have been revised and will continue to create a safe environment.   

Marty Myers
Retired Fire Marshall City of Kalamazoo
Coordinator of Fire Inspector Certification Program State of Michigan

Do you have a certification story? Let me know. I'd love to hear it! - Leon