Lately there has been discussion about the topic of recertification in the fire service in some industry publications, and there seems to be some confusion or misperceptions about our recent activity. Here is the history and the current status.
In the summer of 2016, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation), the independent research affiliate of NFPA, received a request to conduct a study on fire services professional qualifications and recertification requirements. The proposal asked for a review of the existing processes that are in place for emergency personnel to demonstrate their level of competency against a certain credentialing benchmark. It also requested recommendations for implementing and enforcing a proficiency system on a local, state, and national level.
The Research Foundation undertook this project in 2018. This overall effort entailed two deliverables: (1) The research report which has been available online since September 2019, and (2) the workshop proceedings which have now been finalized and are available on the Research Foundation’s website.
The research project
The contractor for this project was FireTox, LLC. They were selected through the Research Foundation’s open RFP process in accordance with our policies, and were chosen to conduct the research with a goal of identifying, comprehending, and reviewing the current fire service training and certification climate. As part of the project, approaches used by parallel professions (EMS, law enforcement, nurses, and teachers) were assessed and a continuing education model was developed. Fire service members were then surveyed to determine how implementation of that model would impact them and their organization.
The new research report was used to facilitate conversation between interested stakeholders and fire service representatives at an October workshop at NFPA headquarters.
The following was considered during the workshop:
- The evolution, status and anticipated direction of the ProQual system and JPR development
- Current practices for maintaining fire and emergency personnel skill proficiency in North America
- Clarification of the relevancy and applicability of the processes adopted in parallel professions
- Identification, prioritization, and assessment of processes that could be implemented for fire and emergency services personnel
- The creation of a recommended action plan to provide guidance to the ProQual infrastructure to meet the needs for today and the future
The goal was not to reach consensus on any of the issues that were discussed. Instead, the objective was to gather threshold information that can be used as guidance.
This project and workshop did not, and could not, change any information in any NFPA standard. Changes can only be made to NFPA documents through the Standards Development process.