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Moving Professional Standards forward inch-by-inch

The impact of national codes and standards

Next week the National Fire Protection Association will have its annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago.

One of the activities is to have meeting for codes and standards in the "Annual 2013" cycle with certified amending motions. The last opportunity to issue appeals to the standard is July 3, with the revised standard to be issued in August  as a 2014 standard. I have followed the two year journey of NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications as the 2009 version is updated.

 

 

 

 

 

Developing codes and standards is the primary mission for the NFPA, from their website:

NFPA is responsible for 300 codes and standards that are designed to minimize the risk and effects of fire by establishing criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation in the United States, as well as many other countries. Its more than 200 technical code- and standard- development committees are comprised of over 6,000 volunteer seats. Volunteers vote on proposals and revisions in a process that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). National Fire Codes® Subscription Service All Access provides individual subscribers with online access to every NFPA code and standard, Handbooks and Annotated Editions. In addition, NFPA provides free online access to its codes and standards.

There are more than a dozen NFPA standards that cover professional qualifications or competencies that have shaped the emergency services industry. The first NFPA 1001 standard was issued in 1974. As described in the 1001 history:

"The original concept of the professional qualification standards as directed by the Joint Council of National Fire Service Organizations (JCNFSO) and the National Professional Qualifications Board (NPQB) was to develop an interrelated set of performance standards specifically for the fire service. The various levels of achievement in the standards were to build on each other within a strictly defined career ladder.

In the late 1980s, revisions of the standards recognized that the documents should stand on their own merit in terms of job performance requirements (JPRs) for a given field. Accordingly, the strict career-ladder concept was abandoned, except for the progression from fire fighter to fire officer. The later revisions, therefore, facilitated the use of the documents by other than the uniformed fire services."

Each JPR consists of the task to be performed; the tools, equipment, or materials that must be provided to successfully complete the task; evaluation parameters and/or performance outcomes; and lists of requisite knowledge and skills one must have to be able to perform the task.

The intent of the NFPA technical committee was to develop clear and concise JPRs that can be used to determine that an individual, when measured to the standard, possesses the skills and knowledge to perform as a fire fighter. The committee further contends that these JPRs can be used in any fire department in any city, town, or private organization throughout North America.

Accreditation means closer attention to JPRs

Earlier this year my hometown state conducted training for those that administer end-of-course skill exams. Like their academic colleagues, being able to "walk your talk" and demonstrate the skills that level of certification requires has been the source of special focus by the National Professional Qualifications Board.

We are s-l-o-w-l-y inching forward to a time when a ProBoard credentialed Fire Officer I can move from one state to another and have the credentials recognized. Too many communities struggle to recognize ProBoard credentialed fire officers from two jurisdictions away … in the same state.

Related:

(2012) Amazing Academic Accreditation Example

(2007) Nursing is a Profession, Firefighting is a Hobby and Paramedics are Caught in the Middle

Mike "FossilMedic" Ward

Comments - Add Yours

  • John

    Mike,
    The reciprocity issue always steams me. I had six years as a career firefighter when I accepted a military reserve billet as an ARFF firefighter. Since I am from the wonderful state of Michigan, none of my certifications transferred. I had to retake Hazmat Awareness and Ops, and challenge test for FF 1 & 2. I even had to prove that, although licensed by the state as a paramedic, that I met the requirements for Medical First Responder. They never accepted my Fire Officer or Hazmat certs, and wouldn’t pay for the IFSAC/ProBoard classes, so I was performing my duties with the skills and knowledge, but without the required certifications.

    I feel even worse for the military firefighters coming off active duty or returning from contract work in Iraq/Afghanistan that can’t get hired because of the reciprocity issues.Given that almost every department now requires you to be trained to apply, the only reason to deny reciprocity is a money grab by the fire academies and instructors. Refusing reciprocity reduces the applicant pool, denies experienced people job mobility, and costs the organization money to pay for unnecessary training. It amazes me that we can all use the same IFSTA book and NFPA standards for training, and then deny equivalency. Rant off, thanks.